268. Editorial Note

According to Henry Kissingerʼs Daily Schedule, he was to meet with Soviet Chargé Yuli Vorontsov at 11:35 a.m. on December 10, 1971, and did so at 11:58. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule) In his memoirs Kissinger writes that at this meeting he outlined a modified United States proposal for a settlement of the crisis. The proposal no longer called for a withdrawal of Indian forces. It stipulated a cease-fire and standstill agreement to be monitored by United Nations representatives in both wings of Pakistan. After the cease-fire took effect, there would be negotiations directed at troop withdrawals and the satisfaction of Bengali aspirations. (White House Years, page 905) Kissinger noted that he also conveyed to Vorontsov the text of the letter Nixon sent to Brezhnev on December 10 (Document 269). The only other record of this meeting that has been found is a tape recording of Kissingerʼs report on the meeting to Nixon shortly thereafter.

Kissinger told President Nixon that after their meeting, Vorontsov had needed no further proof of United States resolve. He said that “we got the message loud and clear from the President yesterday.” Vorontsov added: “I can tell you informally that if they are not [Page 746] working through the night now in Moscow, they are not doing their duty.” Kissinger concluded: “Weʼre going to get it.” He said he had underlined the significance of the understanding President Kennedy had with President Ayub about coming to Pakistanʼs assistance. “I showed him the secret treaty. I said now I hope you understand the significance of this. It isnʼt just an obligation. It will completely defuse the Democrats because they are not going to attack their own President. So I said when the President yesterday spoke of an obligation he was speaking of a Kennedy obligation…. He said within an hour this will be on Mr. Brezhnevʼs desk. And I told him weʼre moving some military forces, but it will not be visible until Sunday night…. In effect, it was giving him sort of veiled ultimatum.”

Nixon said: “If Brezhnev does not have the good judgment not to push us to the wall on this miserable issue, … we just may as well forget the summit.” Kissingerʼs judgment was that “by Sunday night or Monday” (December 12–13) there would be an acceptable cease-fire. He said: “I think that the Russians will agree with us to call for one.” The Chinese would accept such a proposal, he assured Nixon, “because weʼve got Yahya. What we are proposing to the Russians, Yahya gave us.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, December 10, 1971, 12:47 a.m.–1:01 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 635–17) The editors transcribed the portions of the tape recording printed here specifically for this volume. A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 173.