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

134596. Subj: Meeting Between Secretary and Indian Ambassador regarding China

Summary: At Secretaryʼs invitation Indian Ambassador Jha visited Department July 22 for discussion recent US moves regarding China. Secretary explained purpose of Dr. Kissingerʼs visit to Peking was to arrange Presidential visit. US overall purpose was to establish communications with Peoples Republic of China and normalize relations. While there had been presentations of established positions on issues by both sides during Kissinger visit, there had been no decisions or understandings. We intended seek improvement of relations but not at expense of other nations. Amb Jha indicated GOI welcomed new US effort improve relations with PRC but concerned how relationship might affect interests of other countries and how it might relate to troubled Sino-India relationship and Chinese support of Pakistan. End summary.
Secretary opened meeting, also attended by Sisco, Rasgotra, Verma and Schneider, saying he had intended to see Jha sooner but Amb had been out of town. He had just come from appointment with President who conveyed his best regards to Amb Jha and asked that they be conveyed to PM Gandhi. Secretary explained that Dr. Kissinger had telephoned Jha prior to Presidentʼs announcement of Kissinger [Page 284] visit and planned Presidential trip to Peking.2 Dr. Kissinger had been in India immediately prior to his trip to China and he wanted to make clear that he had intended no misrepresentation when he did not inform GOI of planned visit. No other government had been consulted in advance since we believed without secrecy there would have been too many obstacles in way of successful mission. Secretary said he appreciated Indiaʼs understanding of Presidentʼs announcement.
Secretary explained purpose of Kissinger visit was to arrange Presidential visit. It seemed important to us that President meet PRC leaders as best means of normalizing relations, which was our purpose. We use this general term because we do not now know how normalization will develop. US Administration does not consider it wise continue without communications with country of 750 million people. This does not mean our policy will change. It may mean improvement in relations with PRC but this will not be made at expense of other nations. We have had close communications with Soviets for a long time but these have not been conducted at expense of our friends. No time has yet been fixed for Presidential visit. May 1 was mentioned as deadline because we did not wish visit to become involved in US Presidential campaign.
Referring to Kissinger/Chou-En-lai conversations Secretary explained half of time was taken for translation. Much of discussion related to working out communiqué. Balance consisted of restatement of policies, publicly stated before, of both governments. There were no agreements, explicit or implicit, and no understandings other than to have summit meeting. Both sides thought there would be something to be gained by that meeting. That gain will depend upon events. There was certainly nothing in conversations—and Secretary emphasized he had seen everything regarding talks which President had seen—which was detrimental to India in any sense of the word.
Amb Jha said GOI understood why it was not taken into confidence regarding Kissinger trip.GOI had noted that Kissinger when in New Delhi had discussed China in more detail than expected in view of refugee problem. In light of later revelations India read this as a prior assurance. Indian Foreign Ministerʼs first response was to welcome US move. Later he made certain observations that external powers should not seek decide future of other countries. US move was important in relationship to state of Sino-India relations and active Chinese support to Pakistan. Therefore there was undercurrent of anxiety in India. There was feeling that this plus Pak role in arranging meeting will make it more difficult for USG to play constructive part in seeking solution to [Page 285] refugee problem and promoting political accommodation in East Pakistan. India is concerned that all these developments may weaken kind of support it is seeking. Result could be additional obstacle in way of warm relations between India and US.
Secretary replied US does not intend that this happen. Explained any time we improve relations with one country there are inevitable suspicions that this being done at expense of others. This not so in this case. Secretary has long believed there need for communications with PRC. This should ease tensions and promote world peace. There is no collusion or invidious purpose behind US moves. US actions will demonstrate this is so.
Jha inquired whether there were any discussions in Peking about India. Secretary answered that he has avoided answering specific questions such as this and he would in this case except to say that there was no discussion of India in any substantial way. Most discussion related to matters of direct US-China interest. India not high on list of such matters.
Secretary explained that if better relations established between US and PRC this should reduce world tensions and, he would think, would be helpful to India as it would in regard Japan and Indo-China. We do not know and are trying to avoid speculation regarding prospects as that would make it appear we had reached agreements. Result, however, could be beneficial to Asia generally. During current era when nuclear power is so destructive it just possible we could have long period of peace. This is what we hope for. Furthermore, we are doing everything we can to show Soviet Union that this US move not directed against them.
Jha explained India has also said it desires normalization with China. It continues support Chinese entry in UN. Agreed if US move reduces tensions India would be most happy.
Secretary then inquired about latest report on flow of refugees from Pakistan into India. Jha replied there had been some reduction down to 40–50,000 per day. This was nonetheless high and no reverse trend in sight. Refugees not likely return while influx continuing as each newcomer brings warnings about return. Jha said that new reason for migration had been added to Pak actions against political leaders and Hindus. Now food and economic difficulties becoming operative factor while other factors continued. Predicted another 2 million refugees may enter India when monsoon ends and travel easier.
Secretary inquired about UN activities. Sisco replied these in planning phase. SYG had developed more precise proposal regarding UN presence to facilitate refugee return. There no disposition now to have Security Council meet. Clear conditions must be created in East Pakistan under which flow will stop and refugees can return. There [Page 286] must be stability, absence of fear, adequate food. For latter purpose much must be done to improve transport to avoid famine. Both India and US wish to see steps toward political accommodation. US will do everything it can to influence these conditions in East Pakistan in the context of restraint and moderation on part of both India and Pakistan. This is US policy. Jha and Rasgotra pointed out East Pakistan problem was not instance of India–Pakistan dispute. It is problem between West and East Pakistan which has effect on India. India therefore takes exception to consideration of problem as another manifestation of India-Pakistan differences. Sisco said that, as he had said before, East Pakistan problem was not anything created by either US or India.
In conclusion Secretary asked that his best regards be conveyed to FonMin Swaran Singh whose visit we much enjoyed. Jha indicated FonMin hoped Secretary could visit India again. Secretary was noncommittal. Said he hoped Jha would keep in close touch with him and Sisco during current difficult period.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA–PAK. Secret; Nodis. Drafted on July 23 by Schneider and approved by Van Hollen. Repeated to Islamabad, Kathmandu, and Colombo.
  2. President Nixon made this announcement on July 15. (Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 819–820