207. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union 1

214926. For Ambassador. Subject: South Asian Crisis.

We are increasingly concerned at deteriorating military situation in South Asia and at prospect of full-scale hostilities between India and Pakistan in near future. You should seek earliest possible opportunity to present following letter from President to Chairman Kosygin.

“Dear Mr. Chairman:

I have been following extremely closely developments on the South Asian sub-continent. The recent border incidents which have involved engagements between Indian and Pakistani aircraft, tanks, and artillery in the Jessore sector of East Pakistan have been of particular concern to me, as I am sure they have been to you. The situation has reached a point at which there appears to be an imminent danger of full-scale hostilities between India and Pakistan.

As Ambassador Beam has made clear to Foreign Minister Gromyko and Mr. Kuznetsov, the United States Government is doing all in its power to assist in deescalating the crisis. It is neither in the interests of the United States nor of the Soviet Union that there be war in South Asia. I welcome the assurances that your Government is using its influence to promote a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

In order to deescalate the crisis, we have proposed to the Governments of India and Pakistan that they withdraw their forces a limited distance from the frontiers. President Yahya has indicated his willingness to take the first step of withdrawal on the West Pakistan-Indian frontier if he could be assured that the Indians would reciprocate subsequently. On the frontier of East Pakistan he has agreed to permit the stationing of UN observers even if India does not reciprocate. I believe that these measures would directly contribute to a lowering of tension and would make possible the pursuit of the political settlement. I hope that your Government would give support to these ideas and, in connection with the pullback proposal, encourage India and Pakistan to designate promptly high level representatives who could work out the details.

Finally, I agree fully that our governments should continue to consult closely on this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Nixon

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA—PAK. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Quainton and Sisco on November 25; cleared by Davies, Van Hollen, and Kissinger; and approved by Acting Secretary Irwin. Repeated to Islamabad, New Delhi, Dacca, and USUN.