154. Editorial Note

President Nixon and Henry Kissinger met at the White House on September 30, 1971, with British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Ambassador Cromer and reviewed a number of issues affecting relations between the United States and the United Kingdom. During the course of a discussion of the emerging crisis in South Asia, Douglas-Home pointed up the importance of making contact with the Bangladesh leaders in the interest of developing a basis for a political settlement. Kissinger responded: “We have been in touch with Bangladesh people in Calcutta. And we were trying to set up a meeting between the Bangladesh people and the West Pakistanis outside of India. And we had Yahyaʼs agreement to that. And the Indians have now totally thwarted it. They made it hard for these people to deal with us, theyʼre forcing them to check everything with them, they are padding demands which are totally incapable of fulfillment.” Nixon also felt that the Indians were preventing a settlement of the crisis: “theyʼre playing a game here that I think is wrong. I think theyʼre deliberately trying to make it insoluble.” Later in the conversation, Kissinger said: “The Bangladesh people are actually quite eager to talk.” “At first, they were willing to settle for autonomy, and as we all know autonomy would produce independence, there is no other way it can go. Now the Indians have escalated their demand into total independence immediately.” He said that Yahya never would agree to such a demand. “There has to be a face-saving formula and a transition period.”

Looking toward his upcoming conversation with Prime Minister Gandhi in November, Nixon suggested that the United States and the United Kingdom exchange information on their talks with her. It was important to do so, he said, so that “she doesnʼt come in here and, frankly, pull our legs.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation among President Nixon, British Foreign Secretary Douglas-Home, Ambassador Cromer, and National Security Assistant Kissinger, September 30, 1971, 4:10–5:31 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 582–9) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 146.