277. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and His Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

RN: Have you kept anybody in State informed on the Bhutto business?

HAK: Yes. Well, I have told State of Bhuttoʼs, I have told Rogers about Bhuttoʼs request to see you. And turning it down. I have not told, because it happened afterwards, of the latest Bhutto thing of their complaint about our weak position—of the Chinese complaint that is. But Bush has reported already a conversation he has had with the ….

RN: The main thing is that they be informed, not totally, but enough so that they know that State [has] a play as to whatʼs going on.

HAK: Oh yes, Bush has kept them informed of the Chinese attitude which he got from the permanent representative of Pakistan at the UN.

RN: Yeah. I understand. Then that is the way we have to move then.

[Page 769]

HAK: We may even have to add one other thing Mr. President. After the message to them tonight, simply to clear our record, we might make a public—a hotline appeal to them tomorrow saying that now that it goes to the Security Council we want to appeal to you once again on the hotline to help us get the fighting stopped. So that we can show the record of appeals to them.

RN: Yeah. Well, I will be back before 9:00 in the morning, the thing to do is to—we could have it prepared—all that is done it is basically just sending the message isnʼt it?

HAK: Yes. It just uses a special machine. Yes we should do it it will help our public record.

RN: Yes, and also, might indicate the urgency to them.

HAK: I think that what we ought to do when we say friendly country towards which we have obligations, if then Ziegler is asked what the obligations are we will reveal the Kennedy commitment.

RN: I suppose the only problem with that is that it isnʼt the revealing of it that concerns me, it is the fact that we wonʼt do anything— that we say we will make a commitment and we do nothing about it. You see thatʼs our problem with that. When the game is all over, we may get some personal—out of pointing this all up, but in turn we have got to think of it only in terms of whether it helps our game at this point, and not in terms of whether it justifies what we are doing. See what I mean? And I am certainly inclined to get it out only in that context however, not simply for the purpose of justification.

HAK: Oh no, in the context of showing them that this is not a frivolous move.

RN: To make both the Indians and the Russians realize the obligations—

HAK: Well, I am inclined to believe to agree with the Chinese that if we do play it all out, they will not drive it [India] to an extreme, because after all they already got 60% of the population of Pakistan.

RN: Well, I agree, but thatʼs the way we are going to play and weʼll see what the Chinese do, and I am not inclined to think though that if the Chinese do make some threatening moves—I know you are concerned about the fact that they may frighten the Indians and it may stiffen the Russians—but I am not inclined to think so—I donʼt think the Russians want to get that involved in that area. Thatʼs what it really gets down to.

HAK: Well, I am pretty sure the Chinese are going to do something and I think that weʼll soon see. I may be mistaken—we have no clear intelligence evidence though at this point.

RN: No, Bhutto thinks they are, but….

HAK: No, no we have independent intelligence.

[Page 770]

RN: But nothing to indicate that they are moving….

HAK: Well, they are calling in the reserves of the mountain divisions.

RN: Okay, I think that the whole thing is—the note to the Russians, but in any event that Bush will be prepared to go to the UN tomorrow in any event—that has to be done—Right.

HAK: Thatʼs right.

RN: So thatʼs and State should be informed of that, that Bush should go to the UN on another—

HAK: We can wait with informing State tomorrow morning.

RN: Yeah, but he must do it tomorrow, donʼt you think so?

HAK: Absolutely, we have to play it out, give the Russians till tomorrow noon.

RN: And then tomorrow at noon, he takes it up there and then we go the second step after that, ceasefire, correct?

HAK: Correct.

RN: And all of that can be undertaken even while we are on the road.

HAK: Oh yes, we can get all the messages.

RN: But in the meantime, we will get something from the Russians for tomorrow—we may not—they may just decide.

(the tape ended at this point) (New tape)

RN: The Indians are now getting greedy.

HAK: And they may want to wait until all the East Pakistanis are in Indian hands before they join in an appeal for a ceasefire.

RN: Well, the main thing is to keep our cool with it and not—keep them in the play and on the affirmative line—we know whatever errors in the past have been—they should not have moved to the strict neutrality [omission in the source text], we all know that, but now we will just keep moving on the right course which is that at this point it was debatable among some quarters as to what the situation was when it was East Pakistan, but now when it is West Pakistan any figment of the suggestion that this was provoked by Pakistan is ridiculous. That is the point and this can only be interpreted now that East Pakistan is being wound up as an assault on East Pakistan, and that exposes it to the whole world to see and the world must move. Now of course not enough has been made of the fact that the UN General Assembly voted overwhelming for a ceasefire, withdrawal and that the Indians not just the Russians—but the Indians turned it down correct? I guess Bush is hitting it hard and State and all the rest?

HAK: Well, Bush is.

RN: We ought to hit that very, very hard—this is against the overwhelming weight of world opinion—we happen to have world [Page 771] opinion on our side this time for whatever it is worth—that point should be made and particularly the UN has to be used right to the hilt—everything [that] is done it has got to be with the UN overwhelmingly on our side and India in effect continuing its aggression against the mandate of the UN—I think that is the PR side of it. —Iʼd get Scali on it.

HAK: Well, I think also that once we go to ceasefire, we have to insist that Britain be with us.

RN: I think you ought to get hold of the British Ambassador in the morning on that or even tonight. Would you do that.

HAK: I will do it first thing in the morning after we know whether we are going alone or with the Russians.

RN: Well, the British ought to go on that, shouldnʼt they? They have some obligations to Pakistan too, havenʼt they?

HAK: Right.

RN: Okay, fine, Iʼll see you in the morning.

(At this point Mr. Kissinger went back to the Haig conversation.)2

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates that the conversation began “ca. 3:00 p.m.” The President spent Saturday, December 11, at Camp David and returned to Washington on Sunday; Kissinger was in Washington.
  2. A transcript of this telephone conversation, which dealt in part with drafting the hot line message to be sent to the Soviet Union, is ibid.