97. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk in Tehran1

Tosec 13. For Secretary from Ball. At lunch today President took extremely strong stand on postponement of Ayub and Shastri visits. He feels that appearance of Ayub on April 26–27 and Shastri on June 2–3 would jeopardize passage foreign assistance legislation. Ayub’s visit would focus attention on activities his Peiping and Moscow trips and recent unfortunate statements. Both would almost certainly feel compelled to make statements regarding Vietnamese problem that would cause trouble with press and in Congress.

Ayub does not return from Moscow until April 11 so we have few days in which to consider how to best handle situation. Talk today was of sending Harriman to Pakistan to see Ayub and having Bunker talk with Shastri late next week in order to arrange postponement both visits.

One difficulty is that President does not intend to delay Moro visit April 20–21 or visit of Wilson on April 15 and is still planning to invite Erhard again this spring. In addition Kenyatta has been asked to come in May and Park is also coming May 17–18.

One possibility would be to postpone Ayub visit first but let Shastri visit stand at least for the time being. We could simply tell Ayub quietly that in view of his recent visits to Peiping and Moscow a visit to Washington at the present time could result only in confusion and would seriously jeopardize Pak foreign aid. This has some risks but at the same time asking Ayub quietly to postpone his visit might provide useful shock treatment since indications are he is being regularly advised by Aziz Ahmed and Bhutto that he can push US further without seriously endangering his foreign aid.

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On the other hand it may be better if we are going to postpone Ayub to try to postpone Shastri also. Personally, I doubt it but both solutions have their problems.

I should greatly appreciate your advice as to what recommendation to make to the President. You may wish to have a private talk with Shoaib indicating the very real possibility that an Ayub visit at this time would not be healthy from the point of view of our aid program for Pakistan.2

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, India, Vol. IV, Cables, 12/64–6/65. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted and initialed by Acting Secretary Ball.
  2. Rusk responded with a personal message for the President on April 8. He urged that any message to Ayub postponing his visit be deferred until after Ayub returned from the Soviet Union. Rusk stated that he planned to have a private talk with Shoaib and would discuss with him the difficulties posed by Ayub’s impending visit to Washington. (Telegram Secto 20 from Tehran; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PAK) President Johnson accepted Rusk’s recommendation. (Telegram Tosec 43 to Tehran, April 8; ibid.)