189. Letter From Indian Prime Minister Gandhi to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President,

I should like to thank you for your warm reception and kind hospitality during my recent visit to Washington. It was a privilege to meet you and Mrs. Nixon again.

The opportunity to discuss matters of immediate concern and also wider international issues with you was of great value to me.

Immediately on my return to Delhi three days ago, I spoke to my colleagues in the Cabinet and to the leaders of the Opposition parties in Parliament about the broad results of the discussions which I have had with you and with other Heads of States and Governments.

The winter session of our Parliament began yesterday and I made a statement there. I am asking Ambassador Jha to invite your personal attention to it.2 It reflects our anxiety and hope. I made it in the faith that justice will prevail and the reality of the situation appreciated. This faith is sustained by the discussions I had with you which, I believe, [Page 523] led us to a common understanding of the root causes of the tragedy in East Bengal. I also believe that we generally agreed about the manner in which this crisis could be resolved so that we would be relieved of our suffering and the danger to our country.

I hope that the vast prestige of the United States and its wisdom, which you personify, will be used to find a political solution acceptable to the elected representatives of East Bengal and their leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On my part I shall make every effort to urge patience on our people. However, I would be less than honest if I were not to repeat that the situation in which we find ourselves has long been an unbearable one.

I am somewhat concerned to learn of efforts to involve the Security Council. However well-intentioned these may be, I have little doubt that any public debate at this stage will lead to a hardening of attitudes, which would make the task of reconciliation an extremely difficult one. This is part of the common experience of many countries. Such a move would obstruct the path of the solutions which we jointly seek. In India it will create the impression that the participants are interested not so much in a lasting solution as in side-tracking the main issue, namely, the revolt of the people of East Bengal against the tyranny of the military regime of West Pakistan, first in denying them the fruits of development and then in suppressing their legitimate demand for democratic rights. I hope that the influence of the United States will be used to prevent the development of such an impression.

We have all admired the great courage which has inspired you in taking several important and decisive initiatives to resolve complex problems. I sincerely hope that the same clear vision will guide relations between our two democracies and will help us to come closer. It will always be our effort to clear any misunderstanding and not to allow temporary differences to impede the strengthening of our friendship.

With warm regards and best wishes to you and to Mrs. Nixon,

Yours sincerely,

Indira Gandhi
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 755, Presidential Correspondence File, India (1971). No classification marking. An advance copy of the letter was sent to the White House on November 18 by Ambassador Jha. (Ibid.) Chargé dʼAffaires Rasgotra delivered the signed letter to the White House under a covering memorandum to Kissinger on November 24. (Ibid.)
  2. Prime Minister Gandhiʼs statement in Parliament on November 15 was distributed by the Indian mission to the United Nations. A copy was sent by the Indian Embassy to the White House and is ibid.