50. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1

3577. Secretary pre-occupied with Southeast Asia and was inclined during plane trip from US to New Delhi to postpone decision on military aid to India. However, believe he was impressed with obvious political opportunity facing us with a new government coming in and the rapidly increasing GOI fear of Chinese breakthrough in Southeast Asia. As a result he seemed cautiously favorable to procedures and substantive recommendations which I have since his departure described in a comprehensive cabled proposal (Embtel 3572).2 This will reach him in Saigon Sunday and should be in your hands and McNamara’s hopefully before McNamara leaves for Honolulu.

If the President can be persuaded to read our cable3 I think he will have clearer perspective of the current opportunities for US in India.

Measures needed to button up the military aid situation here and to take advantage of dramatic opportunity with a new government are as follows:

Secure USG concurrence in modest adjustments requested by GOI in the agreement between Chavan and ourselves so that memorandum of understanding4 can promptly go to new Cabinet for final approval.

Authorize me to secure approval of new government of press statement included in Embtel 35725 or some genuinely meaningful substitute. If I can get such a statement in the papers here within a day or two after the formation of the new government the political effect in what will inevitably be rather wobbly situation might well be both profound and dramatic. If I can be authorized to say that military loans in addition to grants will be in neighborhood of 50 million dollars this will further strengthen our position. After all, this will leak sooner or later in any event.

It is particularly important to get the story published before we are hit by leaks and distortions that can confuse the situation with added possibility of military aid proposals from Moscow to new Indian government.


Authorize me to proceed at once to negotiate package air agreement along lines proposed Embtel 3572 with whatever caveats may be required to secure approval. I believe it is essential that we include some reference to F–104s and the stronger the reference the greater the possibility of persuading the new government to limit MIGs to acceptable numbers. If technical questions arise that are beyond our capacities here experts should be sent from Washington.

If you can manage this I will be greatly in your debt and the next message you can expect from me will be a Christmas card.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2405B. Secret. Also sent to the White House for McGeorge Bundy.
  2. In telegram 3572 from New Delhi, May 30, Bowles strongly endorsed McNamara’s desire to expedite a military assistance agreement. He argued that the best way for the United States to associate itself with the new government in India would be to follow up on the favorable outcome of the Chavan talks. Bowles proposed that the agreement discussed in Washington should be finalized and initialed by Chavan and himself as soon as possible. When the new government was formed, Bowles would negotiate implementation of the agreement. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Vol. II, Cables, 4/64–6/64)
  3. Komer commented on telegram 3572 in a June 3 memorandum to McGeorge Bundy. Komer found Bowles’ proposals persuasive, but added: “you and I are among the few people in this town who read Bowles’ epistles for sense. He’s so drawn down his credit that neither DOD nor the Seventh Floor in State really focus on his mail anymore. Even the President seems to react adversely to Chet’s overbidding.” Komer concluded that “the real issue is not whether Bowles is right but whether we can sell his wares to a harassed President over the niggling objections of Rusk and Defense.” (Ibid.)
  4. A draft memorandum of understanding, based on the one provided by Rao to Solbert, was furnished by Solbert to Rao on May 27 prior to the departure of the Indian delegation. The text of this draft was transmitted to New Delhi on May 28 in joint State/Defense telegram DA 970998. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 69 A 7425, India 091.112)
  5. The press release Bowles proposed in telegram 3572 emphasized the positive outcome of the discussions between Chavan and McNamara. It noted that the United States agreed that India’s 5-year plan provided a sound basis for defense assistance and referred to discussions to develop plans for U.S. assistance in meeting India’s need for high-performance aircraft.