216. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in India1

518. Deptel 513 to New Delhi.2 Following based upon uncleared memcon. It is FYI, Noforn and subject to amendment upon review.

Under Secretary Ball called in Amb B.K. Nehru Sept 19 to respond to GOI requests which Ambassador had put to Secretary Sept 17 (Deptel 498)3 and which L.K. Jha had made to Amb. Bowles Sept 18.

After discussion state of play in New York, Amb. Nehru asked if USG had decided upon course following SC action. Under Secretary replied US placing great emphasis upon giving UNSC every chance work out subcontinent crisis. Said this was case in which bilateral diplomacy has great limitations particularly since US has friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. Said he would not wish predict future US course.

Under Secretary commented that Indians had replied to Chicom note in statesmanlike manner. Chicom response now gives more time. Remarked that there may be some benefit in Indian admission of exist- ence “structures”.

Amb Nehru admitted there were such “structures” and claimed they had been unoccupied for 3 years. Said there seemed be difference between Indian estimate of Chicom forces deployed along Indian border (his figure was 150,000) and considerably lower US estimate. We replied our estimate was about 67,000 in Tibet including 5–6,000 in Ladakh plus about 20,000 in Sinkiang. Nehru said India not particularly concerned about Chicom attacks through Chumbi Valley, but was worried about possible Chicom move through Karakoram Pass into Pak held Kashmir. From this side Chicoms could attack in vicinity Kargil and cut off India division in Ladakh by cutting Srinagar-Leh road. Amb Nehru said GOI convinced there was Pak-Chicom collusion.

Under Secretary read from Tass story reporting that Kosygin had invited Shastri and Ayub meet on Soviet soil to discuss conflict.4 Nehru [Page 414] explained this offer, which was for meeting at Tashkent, had been made some time ago. Did not indicate nature Indian reply.

Under Secretary then referred to GOI request USG give warning against Chicom attacks. Stated we believe there would be grave dangers in such action since Chicoms might consider this challenge they would have to take up. We had raised matter at Warsaw talks and Chicoms have undoubtedly taken our probable reaction into consideration.

Under Secretary mentioned heavy US commitments in Southeast Asia. Said defense of subcontinent had been weakened by Indo-Pak conflict. Consequently we were concentrating on ending fighting so Indo-Pak differences can be sorted out. Sorting out will depend upon GOI’s willingness talk about outstanding problems.

Nehru interjected this hard for GOI to do. When Paks “hold gun” to India, it can’t agree such proposal. Under Secretary replied Paks asking for plebiscite; we recognize this would be difficult. But world would recognize statesmanship of Indian agreement to some kind of talks on range of differences with Pakistan. Amb Nehru then referred to last set of scheduled Indo-Pak talks which he said Paks had cancelled. Said GOI had been hopeful Rann of Kutch agreement forecast favorable turn Indo-Pak relations but then infiltrations began in Kashmir. Said India not seeking military solution India-Pak problems; but Pakistan was. Current fighting meant it would take long time arrange rational settlement. India wants to get unconditional cease fire and consider talks about many disputes with Pakistan afterwards.

Under Secretary then addressed himself to L.K. Jha’s proposal for secret contingency discussions with GOI (New Delhi’s 698).5 (Amb Nehru unfamiliar with this matter. We explained it was confidential proposal put directly to Amb Bowles by L. K. Jha.) Under Secretary said we were not prepared undertake joint contingency planning at this time. Such discussions of what would be militarily effective against Chicoms would involve USG on side Indians and create ambiguity about US position in Indo-Pak conflict. If Chicoms attack, we would wish take another look at situation under consultation provision of Air Defense Agreement. In meantime we wanted Indians’ best appraisal of situation through normal continuing discussions between US and Indian military in India.

Amb. Nehru inquired re Indian request for end US suspension MAP and sales shipments. Under Secretary replied he saw no possibility of US lifting suspension to India and not Pakistan, as Indians asked. Noted that this would destroy whatever influence US had with Pakistan and push Paks further toward Chicoms.

[Page 415]

Toward end conversation, Amb Nehru changed subject and asked, “why are you trying to starve us out?” Under Secretary replied this was matter we were currently looking into and we hoped have decision in one way or the other in day or two. Pointing to “extreme urgency” of food shipments, Ambassador said India needed resumption by Sept 25.6

At close conversation Amb Nehru said Education Min Chagla would be returning to Delhi Sept 19 and would probably come back to New York later. Said he had received no word that Swaran Singh planning special trip here but that presumably he would be coming for UNGA.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Schneider and approved by Handley. Repeated to Karachi, London, USUN, CINCMEAFSA, Hong Kong, Rawalpindi, the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 211.
  3. Document 208.
  4. Kosygin sent letters on September 17 to Shastri and Ayub, which were published in Pravda, inviting them to meet on Soviet territory to resolve the conflict, with the participation of Kosygin if desired. (Telegram 948 from Moscow, September 21; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  5. Document 211.
  6. On September 19 Ball sent a memorandum to President Johnson recommending an extension of the existing P.L. 480 agreement with India for 1 month. He also recommended permitting purchase authorizations for Pakistan for 1 month. “This would hold them on a short tether and keep them worried.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Komer Memos, Vol. II) Telegram Aidto 392 to New Delhi, September 22, authorized the Embassy to negotiate an interim agreement with the Indian Government for 500,000 tons of wheat to meet urgent needs. It was anticipated that the agreement would cover 1 month of India’s import requirements. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, AID (US) 15–8 INDIA)