98. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State 1

Secto 32. Eyes only President and Ball from Secretary. I had a very frank and private discussion with Pakistan Finance Minister Shoaib this afternoon about general state of our relations. Will be reporting full details later. I did, as though on my own responsibility, explore with him fully the dangers and disadvantages of an Ayub visit at this time. I explained both the complications with regard to the final stages of foreign aid legislation and the understandable preoccupation we have with South Viet Nam. I told him quite frankly I thought this was a very poor time for such a visit because Ayub might become embroiled in controversies which he would not relish and to which he could by inadvertence contribute. Shoaib’s first reaction was one of considerable concern, for all of the obvious reasons. When I asked him directly however at the end of the conversation what the effect would be in [Page 213] Pakistan if the visit were postponed, he said that “it would not be too serious if it were made clear to President Ayub that Shastri’s visit was also being postponed.” He added that of course it would be entirely appropriate to inform Shastri that Ayub visit was off.

I am not certain because of the very personal character of our conversation and the personal politics of Pakistan that Shoaib will report my conversation before Ayub returns to Pakistan. If he does, I am sure he will report it as expressions of my own concern rather than any decision already taken.

I still believe that it is very important not to seek out Ayub in the Soviet Union with a request for postponement for reason I have already expressed. I do believe it would be advisable for the President to have a personal report from me on my talk with Shoaib as well as a fresh assessment of domestic and international political factors before the final button is pushed on postponement. My own assessment from this vantage point is that the President’s Hopkins speech2 was a major contribution to international understanding of the American purpose in South Viet Nam.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PAK. Secret; Immediate; Eyes Only; Nodis.
  2. Reference is to the speech President Johnson made at Johns Hopkins University on April 7 in which he expressed the readiness of the United States for unconditional discussions leading to a peaceful settlement in Vietnam. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, April 26, 1965, pp. 606–610.