149. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in Calcutta1

172246. Ref: Calcutta 2513, 2510.2

As Calcutta has noted, Qaiyumʼs reluctance or inability produce Bangla Desh “Foreign Minister” Mushtaq Ahmed for meeting indicates considerable cooling Mushtaqʼs initiative. While there may be many reasons for this development, point for us seems to be that we should not seek to lead unwilling BD reps into negotiation.
At this time, we see little merit in Qaiyumʼs alternative suggestion of meeting with “Prime Minister” Tajuddin Ahmed or with “Acting President” Nazrul Islam who were presumably not instigators of Mushtaqʼs initiative. You should, therefore, avoid giving Qaiyum any encouragement that you wish to see these BD reps. If, however, he should on his own produce appointment with one or both, hold option open and report soonest so that Dept can consider what, if any, use might be made of such contacts.
We do, however, see point in continuing to seek meeting with Mushtaq if for no other reason than to verify whether Qaiyumʼs reporting of Mushtaqʼs earlier and current positions has been accurate. Dept, therefore, suggests you continue discreetly seek contact with Mushtaq via any appropriate channel available to you (given Qaiyumʼs increasingly emotional and seemingly erratic outbursts, it may be well [Page 417] to avoid pursuing contact through him). You should, however, continue to be cautious in avoiding implication we have “important” message to pass Mushtaq lest latter seek hold out for higher level meeting there or elsewhere, e.g., as part of visit to, UNGA, New York. Should meeting with Mushtaq take place, believe you should pass on indication of President Yahyaʼs interest in negotiation, whether or not Mushtaq verifies past BD interest in negotiation.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Constable on September 16; cleared by Laingen, Schneider, Van Hollen, Sisco, and Saunders; and approved by Irwin. Repeated to Islamabad, London, New Delhi, and Dacca.
  2. Telegram 2510 from Calcutta, September 15, reported on a September 14 meeting between a political officer of the Consulate General and Bangladesh representative Qaiyum. According to Qaiyum, Foreign Minister Mushtaq Ahmed had discussed with the Bangladesh Cabinet a proposed meeting between Mushtaq and the political officer. The Cabinet questioned the purpose of the meeting, and Mushtaq asked Qaiyum to find out why the political officer wanted to speak to him. The political officer replied that he had been instructed to discuss the Bangladesh position directly with Mushtaq, and “implied that he might subsequently have something to say to FonMin.” Qaiyum said he would stress the importance of such a meeting, and, if Mushtaq remained reluctant to meet, he would approach Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed or Acting President Islam to take his place.

    On September 16 the political officer met with Qaiyum again. Qaiyum said that Mushtaq was still questioning the need for a personal meeting, but wanted to know what would be discussed if the meeting did take place. The officer replied that he was prepared to listen to anything Mushtaq wanted to discuss. (Telegram 2513 from Calcutta, September 16; both ibid.)