163. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1
Moscow, October 8, 1971, 1825Z.
7529. Subj: Discussion With Gromyko on Indo-Pak Confrontation. Ref: State 185010.2
- Summary. I called on Gromyko and expressed concern over Indo-Pak situation. He listened gravely and attentively, agreed that situation is both tense and complex but otherwise declined to give Soviet assessment of border situation. He noted with approval that US is seeking to restrain both sides. He said Soviet side also has approached both sides and indicated Soviets have faith in Indian assurances but lack of faith in Pakistani assurances. He warned there are people in Pakistan who might be tempted to resort to force. He appreciated need for US and Soviet Union to work in same direction of averting conflict, said Soviet Union wishes to do utmost to this end, and stated he will see what steps can be taken “under present conditions.” End summary.
- I called on FonMin Gromyko Oct 8 and expressed our concern over increasing risks of war along lines reftel. Noting reported Indian and Pakistani military movements, reports of possible cross-border operations by Mukti Bahini, as well as possible Pakistani military attacks across West Pakistan border, I said we consider situation sufficiently serious that we are making immediate representations at highest level in both capitals, urging curb on cross-border operations by all parties [Page 455] and pullback from borders of military forces of both India and Pakistan. I noted that we assume both the US and Soviet Union have strongly shared interest in reducing risks of conflict and expressed hope that Soviet Government would act in any way open to it to bring about both immediate reduction of military confrontation and longer-term objective of political solution.
- Gromyko expressed satisfaction that US takes measures in direction of restraining both sides. His government has also made approaches, of differing natures, to both sides. He said Soviets rely on assurances given personally by PriMin Gandhi that India will do nothing to cause clash with Pakistan. They are less certain about Pakistani assurances.US should know that in Pakistan there are people who probably are tempted to resort to force to solve problem. Soviet Govt will see what steps can be taken at present moment and under present conditions. As he said in Washington and particularly in New York, Soviet Union not only not interested in conflict in that area but will do utmost to avoid clash. It would be good if US Govt acted in same spirit. It is necessary that conflict be avoided. It is in the interest of our two countries and of peace in the area.
- I reiterated that because of gravity of crisis it was important to take action with both sides, without apportioning blame, because both are on edge of hostilities. I noted reports of plans by Mukti Bahini to move large numbers of men across border, with support of Indian army, and reports of military buildup along West Pakistan border. I asked what is Soviet assessment of situation.
- Gromyko said that he does not have factual information about activities of “irregulars” (his word for Mukti Bahini) on border. He said he does not doubt situation is tense as well as complex: this was clear at time of his recent visit to India. It is necessary for all parties concerned to show restraint, and for US and Soviet Union to make all possible efforts in the same direction of averting conflict between India and Pakistan.
- I suggested that we keep in touch on this matter. Gromyko replied that he would of course leave open possibility of responding in more detail later and agreed that it would be useful to maintain contact on this subject. He expressed appreciation that I had presented this information to him.
- Dept repeat as desired.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. This telegram was summarized on October 8 by the National Security Council staff in a memorandum for Kissinger to use in briefing the President on October 9. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 570, Indo-Pak War, South Asia, October 1–24, 1971)↩
- Document 160.↩