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

K: Mr. President.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

P: On the India-Pakistan thing, Dacca has surrendered and now the issue is …

K: Now, if in the next 24 hours the Indians donʼt agree to a cease-fire in the West we are in for it. Up until now it could be explained that Soviets wanted to wait until Dacca had surrendered.

P: Has the proposal been put up in …

K: No, it has been tabled and there will probably be a vote today. And that will be the test.

P: Well, they [the Soviets] will veto it.

[Page 838]

K: Well, I donʼt know. They arenʼt saying anything any more.

P: Then under the circumstances, would they just continue the war?

K: There are three possibilities: First, the British proposal carries; second, India-Pakistan ceasefire and third, the Indians continue the war until they smash the Pakistanis in Kashmir. Now we have had another appeal from the Pakistanis last night.2 Action is picking up in the West and they are asking for American planes, but we cannot even consider this. If this isnʼt settled by tomorrow night we will know the Russians have put it to us.

P: The one thing I am disappointed about, really teed off at is that you were unable to get out that Indian cabinet meeting thing. We have got to get it out.

K: We will do it.

P: I know there are a lot of pro-Indian people in State and who are trying to delay this. But I want it. We ought to be pressing the Indians every day. Now that Dacca has fallen we have got to get that Ambassador3 in here and tell him the President is outraged about what he has done using our television and radio facilities to do it. Second, someone has got to say something about the Indian aid. The figure they have been using is not correct. I want a report. I want everything in it: PL–480, unilateral and multilateral assistance because some pressures have got to go. The Russians will only go as far as the Indians want to go. The Indians have got to make a decision whether they want to be totally a Russian satellite or not. Also there have been these Indian cabinet meetings, we have to get reports on those.

K: Yes, Mr. President.

P: Actually with regard to the Indian aid thing, couldnʼt Javits4 or one of the liberals on the Hill see if they couldnʼt stop this now …

K: The next thing we could do is there is $123 million in goods that is moving to India. We could seize those but that would get us into endless litigation.

P: Goods of what type?

K: They have been part of the economic program. It has been paid for already. We can do it. It has been done before.

P: If the Indians continue the course they are on we have even got to break diplomatic relations with them. Donʼt you agree, Henry?

[Page 839]

K: I agree. There is already a strong victory statement and an unbelievable setback for the Chinese which is none of our business but they have certainly humiliated them.

P: And also let it be known they have done nothing.

K: That is right.

P: In the event they [omission in the source text] West Pakistan, is there anything more that can be done? Are they going …

K: They gave us flat assurances there wouldnʼt be. If that happens we will have to reassess our position with the Russians. We will have until Saturday morning to see that.

P: What are they doing?

K: I said to Vorontsov if you donʼt do it at the UN, do it as a bilateral exchange of letters.

P: And they have not responded?

K: No, it is a little early. They could have if they wanted to.

P: The question is …

K: Well, the question is—letʼs look at objectively. So they put it to us and they saw because you acted in such a [omission in the source text] way here, we are going to drop the summit …

P: Well, dropping the summit is not the first thing I would do.

K: Well, you have to look to see how much we are willing to pay in terms of where we are going.

P: To keep ourselves in perspective we have to realize the Russians have put it to us previously in other parts of the world so we have to just grin and bear it, right?

K: But not you, Mr. President.

P: No, but my point is we try everything that we can, but we have to realize the Russians—we have to let them know our options.

K: Our options are limited.

P: They are limited, but even with them we canʼt deal with those Soviets and continue to talk about sales and various other problems.

K: Our options are not all that good.

P: They are not good but they will get results. If after all these appeals and …

K: They are going to continue to butter you up.

P: My view is this: I wonʼt let them do this. Did the Jordanians send planes.

K: 17.

P: Well, my point is so we have done a check of these little things. Now in the event we are going to end up by saying to the Russians [Page 840] you proved to be so untrustworthy we canʼt deal with you on any issues. Letʼs use that card now.

K: We have pretty well told them that.

P: Well, we told them that privately, they may not believe that.

K: Well, if they donʼt believe the President of the United States in a private meeting …

P: You donʼt understand. We threatened it. Letʼs do it.

K: No, for that it is premature, Mr. President. That we cannot do because they still may get us a ceasefire. If they donʼt get a ceasefire, what do we do then?

P: Cut off the Middle East talks, pour arms into Israel, discontinue our talks on SALT and the Economic Security Council can go [to] the public and tell them what the danger is. It is a risk group but the right one. It is pretty clear. I would go further. We have to stop our talks on trade, donʼt let Smith have any further things on the Middle East and stop seeing Dobrynin under any circumstances.

K: That is right. Break the White House channel.

P: And be very cold in our public statements toward them. What I am getting at is if we are prepared to go and have the card to play where we would not talk at all. Another thing I would beef up the Defense Budget plans then.

K: The Defense Budget is being worked on.

P: You will have that done by Friday6 night?

K: Yes.

P: Now, Henry, I am not yet satisfied and I am really mad that this assistance report is not down here. LDX it down here in two hours— Indian aid for next year and last, how much PL–480, how much economic assistance, unilateral assistance—I want to see it.

K: We have got it, but we will get it down.

P: I know the bigger game is the Russian game, but the Indians also have played us for squares here. They have done this once and when this is over they will come to us ask us to forgive and forget. This we must not do. If they want to be dependent on the Russians, let them be, but when the chips are down India has shown that it is a Russian satellite. What I am really saying here is and what I am proposing to do—if India pursues this course, then we will reevaluate their program of aid and cut it off. Has anybody told them that?

[Page 841]

K: We would, but remember you have got to realize everything is being done out of this office. We have a bureaucratic system to deal with. I think it would be better if State told them.

P: Call Sisco. He is to call in the Indian Ambassador and tell him that the U.S., under the circumstances, if there is not a ceasefire we will have no choice and all Indian assistance of all types will be taken out of the budget and call me in an hour.7

K: Yes, Mr. President.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. The President was in Key Biscayne, Florida; Kissinger was in Washington.
  2. See Document 313.
  3. Ambassador Jha.
  4. Senator Jacob Javits (D–New York).
  5. December 17.
  6. Kissinger called Nixon again at 10:40 a.m. to tell him that India had declared a unilateral cease-fire in the west. He said: “We have made it.” He credited the Soviet Union with exerting sufficient pressure on India to produce the desired result. Nixon said: “If Soviets have cooperated on this I think we have got to play on an arms-length deal.” He reiterated that there was to be no economic assistance for India in the budget that was being prepared. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) The transcript is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 191.