103. Telegram From the Embassy Office in Pakistan to the Department of State1

37. For the Secretary from McConaughy. Deptel 1143 to Karachi.2 I had 50-minute meeting with President Ayub in Rawalpindi beginning at 6:30 this evening. FonSec Aziz Ahmed only other person present. I set forth President’s reasons for suggesting postponement of visit in non-abrasive terms, indicating his belief that such action was in best interests of Pakistan. I informed Ayub that corresponding postponement suggestion being made to Shastri. I presented President’s letter of April 143 which President read carefully in my presence.

I affirmed that suggestion for postponement was not a cancellation and that President would want visit rescheduled when time was opportune.

President took the postponement suggestions well and responded in amicable vain, although he seemed slightly taken aback. He did not [Page 220] give any evidence of having had any forewarning from Shoaib or any other source.

President said that he would never wish to take any action which might embarrass the President or complicate his grave problems in this serious hour. He would want to accommodate to any viewpoint of the President on the projected visit and he could understand how criticism could be arising in the Congress and with the US public. He stated that of course he would agree to the postponement of the visit. At the same time he wanted to express his disappointment that he would not have the opportunity of consulting and exchanging views with the President his assessment of the Chinese Communist and Soviet attitudes toward the United States, especially in relation to Southeast Asia, based on his recent visits.

President good-naturally reminded me that he had not suggested April date for visit, and that this date had been put to him as the time most convenient to President Johnson. He said he had then adjusted his tight schedule with some difficulty to meet what he understood were the preferences of the USG. However, he recognized that circumstances could change and he knew that the current problems of the United States administration with Congress as well as in other respects had to be reckoned with.

While President’s acceptance of postponement was unconditional he clearly attached considerable weight to the parallel postponement suggestion to Shastri. This was saving element in our presentation. Prompted somewhat by Aziz Ahmed, he said that he would like for announcement of postponement his visit to be timed to coincide with release of news of Shastri postponement.

He suggested that I work with FonSec Aziz Ahmed on phraseology of postponement announcement, which he thought might be issued jointly. He did not seem unduly concerned about explanation of postponement, indicating only that he thought it could be plausibly attributed to heavy preoccupations of President Johnson with Southeast Asia and other issues, both foreign and domestic. He would like announcement to emphasize that action was more postponement, with hope expressed that meeting could take place later in 1965.4

President said that he had tried to do all he could in general cause, both in Peking and Moscow. While his success was limited, he believed [Page 221] he had made a reasonably effective exposition of positions opposed to the Communists, and had gained a fairly revealing insight into Chinese and Soviet attitudes and approaches to current critical issues, which could be of some background value to US.5

FonSec Aziz Ahmed is to take up draft postponement announcement with me as soon as word is received that Shastri also has agreed to postponement. I would welcome Department’s proposed text of announcement by return cable.

Brief general conversation with Ayub unrelated to foregoing will be reported separately tomorrow.6

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Repeated to Karachi and New Delhi. No time of transmission is on the telegram; it was received at 4:06 p.m.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 100.
  3. See Document 100.
  4. President Johnson issued a statement on April 16 from Johnson City, Texas, indicating that because of the situation in Vietnam and the press of business in Congress he had to reduce his schedule and postpone a number of visits to Washington by foreign leaders. He noted that President Ayub and Prime Minister Shastri had graciously agreed to postpone their visits. (Telegram 1158 to Karachi, April 16; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 INDIA)
  5. McConaughy reported in more detail about Ayub’s discussion of his trip to the Soviet Union in telegram 1970 from Karachi, April 17. (Ibid., POL 7 PAK)
  6. McConaughy also reported that during his April 15 conversation with Ayub, he had expressed strong concern over the succession of inflammatory incidents which had recently been exacerbating relations between Pakistan and India. He pointed in particular to the fighting which had developed in the Rann of Kutch. Ayub assured him that Pakistani soldiers had not gone beyond and did not intend to go beyond their traditional patrol routes in the disputed area. (Telegram 1971 from Karachi, April 18; ibid., POL 32–1 INDIA–PAK)