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

173942. Subject: Contact with Bangla Desh Reps. Ref: Calcutta 2527,2 State 172246.3

In view of fact no USG official has yet had contact with any member political leadership of BD, PolOff authorized meet with BD “Acting President” Nazrul Islam. We see meeting as means: (a) to establish whether any interest in BD “govt” in negotiated settlement at this stage; (b) to learn what are current negotiating demands of BD reps and (c) to inform Nazrul Islam, and through him BD cabinet, that we have already passed on to Pres. Yahya word of possible BD interest in negotiation and that latterʼs reaction was one of interest.4
We believe it is important at this stage that high level official in BD govt be at least aware there has been expression of interest in negotiated [Page 418] settlement on part of Yahya govt. You should, of course, continue to take stance that we are neither proposing negotiations nor taking any part other than that of messenger. In this role, you may if occasion warrants offer to pass any BD message on negotiation or reaction to your information on Yahyaʼs position back to President Yahya.
You should also use opportunity of meeting to urge BD “govt” and Mukti Bahini to respect UN relief operations in East Pakistan as per State 165031.5
Dept believes it would be useful, if opportunity arises in meeting with Nazrul Islam, determine if there is channel other than Qaiyum to Nazrul and BD cabinet.6
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Constable; cleared by Laingen, Schneider, Van Hollen, Sisco, and Saunders; and approved by Irwin. Repeated to New Delhi, Islamabad, Dacca, and London.
  2. On September 20 the Consulate General in Calcutta reported that the Bangladesh leadership in the city were divided over whether to meet with representatives of the U.S. Government. Qaiyum sent word through a messenger that, while Mushtaq Ahmed and Tajuddin Ahmed were not interested in such a meeting, Acting President Nazrul Islam was “keen” to meet with a political officer of the Consulate General. (Telegram 2527 from Calcutta, September 20; ibid.)
  3. Document 149.
  4. Yahya reiterated his interest on September 21. (Telegram 9582 from Islamabad, September 21; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 626, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. VII, Sep–Oct 1971)
  5. An instruction to this effect was transmitted on September 8 to Calcutta in telegram 165031. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK)
  6. Printed from an unsigned copy. A week after receiving this instruction, the Consulate General indicated that it was “stymied” in its efforts to arrange a meeting with Islam. The only channel to Islam remained through Qaiyum. Qaiyum sent a message that Islam was still keen to talk to a political officer but was seeking permission from the Indian Government to do so. (Telegram 2570 from Calcutta, September 28; ibid.)