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

38363. Subject: Morarji Desai’s visit to Washington.

Indian Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai left Washington for New York September 14 after three crowded days of discussions here. Visit went well and frank and useful discussions were held in cordial atmosphere. Only jarring note was Desai’s tactlessness at press conference which antagonized most of journalists present. On other hand, Washington Post commented favorably editorially on visit.
During course of September 11–13 visit Desai saw President, Vice President, Secretaries Rusk, McNamara,2 Fowler and Freeman, as well as Gaud, Linder, Governor Harriman and George Woods. He met with members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed National Press Club and had several sessions with press.
The discussions were wide ranging and covered India’s agricultural problems and policies, political developments in India, outlook for aid and debt relief, family planning, India’s relations with Southeast and East Asia, China, Vietnam, Middle East, nuclear policy, NPT and security assurances.
No proposals were advanced by either side and none were expected. Each of foregoing topics was discussed in some detail at least once and several, such as China and Vietnam, were covered several times. For the most part Desai followed the GOI position on these issues. He was inflexible on the Middle East and voiced well-known Indian objections [Page 888] to NPT. He discounted efficacy of security assurances. He strongly reaffirmed policy of present Congress Government of foregoing nuclear weapons.
Desai recognized the need for further Indian initiatives to improve relations with countries of Southeast Asia and with Japan and Australia. He expressed concern over China’s continued threat to India. The subject of relations with Pakistan came up inferentially and Kashmir was not raised by either side.
Desai was given a full briefing on Congressional and public attitudes to aid and on U.S. resources that may be available for India next year. He was told not to expect more than 250 million additional DL funds.
Desai departed from his script most notably when discussing Vietnam. He displayed considerable interest in our views and in developments in North and South Vietnam. Much of his questioning reflected concern that South Vietnamese might become restive and withdraw their support of U.S., thereby putting us in awkward position. He readily agreed to proposition that we could not expect to discontinue bombing in North while North Vietnamese continued their infiltration and aggression in South Vietnam. He repeated this view on TV show September 13, stating with regard to our bombing policy “we do want that these operations of destruction stop, and not stop only on one side, they have to stop on both sides.”
We believe that Desai left with clear picture of our views on topics covered and on aid prospects. Two proposals emerged during discussions with Secretary and with McNamara: (a) to undertake strictly private, informal periodic meetings for full exchange of views on mutual problems and policies in order identify areas of agreement and disagreement and understand why we disagree when we agree to do so. Desai suggested these talks include parliamentarians and private leaders who have confidence of their government; (b) to consider a cost-effectiveness study of Indian defense spending with the aim of buying same amount of security with less money. This arose during discussion with Secretary McNamara who said we would help whenever asked. Desai expressed interest in concept.
We will be following up on both suggestions and in meantime welcome Embassy’s comments on how best to get them going.
Septels report details on discussions on aid and economic matters3 and on military and security subjects.4 Memcons follow.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 INDIA. Secret. Also sent as telegram Toros 59. Drafted by Heck, cleared by Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas O. Enders, and approved by Handley. Repeated to Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, London, Moscow, Ottawa, Tokyo, Rawalpindi, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Desai met with Rusk and Humphrey on September 11, with Johnson on September 12, and with McNamara on September 13. Records of these meetings are, respectively, ibid.; ibid., NEA/INC Files: Lot 71 D 174, Economic Affairs (Gen.), Morarji Desai Visit; Johnson Library, National Security File, Name File, Vice President, July 1, 1966, Vol. II; ibid., Country File, India, Vol. X, Memos and Miscellaneous, 8/67–2/68; and Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 73 A 1250, India 121.6.
  3. Telegram 37916 to New Delhi, September 15. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 INDIA)
  4. Telegram 38829 to New Delhi, September 16. (Ibid.)