289. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4965. Subj: India/Pakistan: Bush mtg with Foreign Minister Singh.

Following highlights of mtg between Bush and Swaran Singh uncleared.
During two hour conversation between Bush and Singh, at latterʼs initiative, Singh and entourage (Kaul, Jha, and Sen) made following major points.
UN Action. UN cannot take useful action at this time. Further debate will only harden positions and create additional frictions. UN tied to precedent and formalistic rites and cannot deal with such complex issues. If UN has to meet in future, Bangla Desh reps must be present; it is a reality.
Indian Aims in East. Indian aims are simple: Surrender of Pak forces with repatriation to follow; recognition of Bangla Desh. US should try understand complex reasons why India recognized Bangla Desh at this time. Recognition was public expression of self-negatism to show that India had no territorial ambitions. Also, situation in East Pakistan is very confused and volatile with many conflicting forces at play. India believed it was necessary recognize moderate, elected, democratic group so that there would be no power vacuum. Recognition of Bangla Desh is an effort control Mukti Bahini.
GOI very much aware need protect Biharis. Will establish safe areas under Indian control and assist in repatriation to West Pakistan if they desire.
Aims in West. India has no territorial aims in West Pakistan. This commitment, however, is not open-ended if GOP continues war and tries make gains in West to make up for loss of East. Under our questioning, they would not make same unequivocal commitment re Azad Kashmir. Kaul said “We have no major ambitions”; even in peace time, he said, we talked with Paks about minor rectifications. Repeatedly, Kaul and Singh said they do not wish to prolong war.2
US Influence With Yahya. Thrust of above was that US use leverage with Yahya, or whomever is in control (this point made on more than one occasion) to see realities in East and move to end war in West as well.
US/Indian Relations. Throughout conversation there was theme that we must try minimize impact on US-Indian relations, but they firmly held to position that they had taken only course open to India. Singh reviewed eight months history but said, let us put that aside, for it was vital we both understand events on Dec 6. India had not attacked on ground in West (“surely your intelligence knows this”) but, once Yahya said next day that state of war exists, India had chosen how it would react. Pak air attack was effort to “internationalize” conflict. US and India have many ideals in common; let these not be destroyed. Kaul very pointedly said that, if press reports were true that US would resume arms shipments to Pakistan, “this would be very serious”.
Bush made it very clear he could not make any commitment re not returning to UN. US was still attempting to see whether UN action “could be useful”. We were not, he said, engaged in exercise “to get someone” but were taking serious look at options. Also, emphasized that he did not wish them to underestimate potential impact of current situation on US-Indian relations. Movement of large armed forces over border had made impact here; American public also concerned over closeness of Indian ties with Soviets. Indians should also understand that large number of UN members also disturbed.US wanted better relations with India but they should clearly understand we have real problems now.
Comment: Foregoing is summary. Discussion was cordial at all times.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Islamabad and New Delhi.
  2. When Ambassador Jha met with Under Secretary Irwin in Washington later in the day, he also addressed the concerns Irwin had expressed on December 9 about Indiaʼs war aims; See Document 262. Jha stressed that India had no territorial ambitions, although he said his government had reservations about offering such assurances unless Pakistan provided similar assurances. The concern was to avoid giving Pakistan the opportunity to wage war with nothing to lose. Jha added that India held to the position that Kashmir belonged to India, therefore any assurance relating to territorial ambitions would not necessarily apply to Azad Kashmir. Irwin reiterated that the United States would find unacceptable any attempt by India to alter the border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. (Telegram 223704 to New Delhi, December 12; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 27 INDIA–PAK; published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 181) Kissinger summarized Jhaʼs response to Irwin in a memorandum that he sent to Nixon on December 13. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 37, Presidentʼs Daily Briefs, Dec 1–Dec 16, 1971)