344. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk 1


  • Diplomatic Recognition of the Mongolian People’s Republic


This memorandum concerning the recognition of Outer Mongolia is submitted at the request of S/S. We continue to receive indications that the Mongols are still interested in exchanging missions (Tab A).2 Ambassador Kohler favors recognition (Tabs B and C)3 as does Ambassador Bohlen (Tab D).4

Ambassador Kohler suggests that, once a policy decision is taken, he be authorized to take quiet soundings with the Outer Mongolian Ambassador in Moscow to avoid any possibility of a rebuff to a public approach on the pretext of popular revulsion because of our behavior in Viet-Nam (Tab C).

We continue to believe that our 1961 negotiations should be resumed. (Tab E summarizes the pros and cons.)5 If the Outer Mongolians should prove unresponsive to an approach by Ambassador Kohler, we would inform them privately that we are prepared to consider recognition again whenever they are ready. Aside from Soviet and Outer Mongolian attitudes, the problem of the GRC reaction remains, as always, the principal deterrent. In our most recent conversation with the GRC Embassy concerning Outer Mongolia we repeated to Minister Shen on May 19 that, while we were not actively contemplating recognition at that time, any U.S. commitment made with respect to the non-recognition of Outer Mongolia was not an unending one (Tab F).6 A precis of US–GRC [Page 746] exchanges on the Mongolian recognition issue is also included in Tab F.7 Steps we might take to mitigate the expected adverse GRC reaction to our decision are discussed at Tab G.8

As to timing, it is extremely important that the step be taken as soon as possible (preferably before the end of June) to avoid an adverse effect on the Chinese representation position in the UN and in any disarmament conference that may be called. Recent soundings by Marshall Green at our Embassy in Taipei and current conversations here with Taipei’s DCM Ralph Clough indicate that now is probably the best time, as far as our relations with the GRC are concerned, to recognize Outer Mongolia. Our firm policy in Viet-Nam should allay any GRC fears that U.S. policy is softening, and the intelligence requirements dramatized by Communist China’s second nuclear explosion are self-evident.

The Russians may be less inclined right now to be forthcoming about transit rights, but the virulence of the Chinese Communist attack upon them should stiffen their back and perhaps cause them fairly shortly to be seeking some indirect means to riposte. If our assumptions are correct, the Mongols will be urging the Russians to cooperate, and the USSR perhaps is not presently in the best position to deny favors to the Mongols. In November 1964 the British established a mission in Ulan Bator, and the French have recently recognized Outer Mongolia, so we are not breaking new ground.

Our generalized interest in self-determination argues that we recognize Outer Mongolia. To this may be added certain specific arguments. If negotiations lead to recognition, we shall have:

encouraged the Mongols’ sense of national identity, both in Mongolia and the bordering areas of China, and promoted the further fractioning of the Communist world,
contributed to a deepening of Sino-Soviet hostilities,
increased our intelligence capabilities in an important area,
afforded better protection for the growing number of American tourists in Mongolia, and
deflected charges of racialism by recognizing for the first time a non-white Communist regime. (This small point may be useful in our efforts to counter the Chinese Communists’ drive to polarize feelings between the white and non-white worlds.)

Even if they did not lead to recognition, negotiations with the Mongols would yield us certain advantages. We would gain a better reading of Russian/Mongol/Chinese relations at this juncture, we would have established communication with the Mongols, and we would have encouraged [Page 747] their sense of nationalism and perhaps their irritation at the Russians. On the other hand, we also would have complicated our relations with the GRC.

A proposed scenario is at Tab H and answers to anticipated domestic criticism at Tab I, in the event you decide that this matter should be further explored. Ambassador MacArthur concurs in the recommendations but wishes to underline the importance of consultation with congressional leaders as spelled out in paragraph 2 of Tab H. As you are aware the Zablocki sub-committee has recommended that consideration should be given to recognition of Outer Mongolia.


That you approve further exploration of the idea of resuming recognition negotiations with the Mongols in accordance with the scenario at Tab H.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 MONG. Secret. Sent through Ambassador at Large Llewellyn E. Thompson. Drafted by Lindsey Grant, Arthur R. Dornheim of ACA, David Dean, and Bennett, and concurred in by Deputy Assistant Secretary for EUR Richard H. Davis, SOV Deputy Director David H. Henry, MacArthur, and Assistant Legal Adviser for Far Eastern Affairs Carl F. Salans. The source text bears the handwritten notation “S saw.”
  2. Airgram A–1490 from Moscow, May 17, and a March 1 letter from Ambassador Kohler to EUR Assistant Secretary Tyler. None of the tabs is printed.
  3. Telegram 2683 from Moscow, March 13; letter of June 12 from Kohler to Tyler; and telegram 3594 from Moscow, May 29.
  4. Telegram 4993 from Paris, March 4.
  5. Unsigned and undated paper entitled “Advantages and Disadvantages of Resuming Recognition Negotiations With the Mongols.”
  6. No record of the conversation with Shen is attached to the source text.
  7. Unsigned and undated paper entitled “Precis of U.S.-GRC Exchanges on Mongolian Recognition Issue.”
  8. The remainder of the tabs, consisting of unsigned and undated papers as described in the memorandum, are attached but not printed.
  9. The source text bears no indication of Rusk’s approval or disapproval. A July 6 memorandum from Bundy to Thompson and Rusk transmitted additional material. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 MONG) A July 28 memorandum from Thompson to Bundy and EUR Assistant Secretary Leddy stated that Rusk did not wish to act on the matter at that time. (Ibid., ROC Files: Lot 75 D 76, Bundy Visit to ROC, March 10–12, 1966) An August 2 memorandum by Dornheim states that Thompson told Berger that Rusk did not want to take action at that time because it “would only invite hostility from President Chiang Kai-shek and we had enough governments critical of us at the moment.” Rusk did, however, suggest that soundings be taken of Chiang’s views when Chiang Ching-kuo visited Washington in September. (Ibid.)