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

K: Mr. President.

P: Hello, Henry, whatʼs the topic today?

K: It looks like we are in business. The Paks have accepted it [the Indian cease-fire offer].

P: Does that mean she (Mrs. Gandhi) wonʼt break it?

K: Well, she has no pretext to break it. Oh, they are bringing me in a flash cable.2 The Celanese want us to put some of our ships in the Indian Ocean into Colombo.

[Page 851]

P: Why do they want them?

K: They would like to show our presence.

P: I see.

K: But at any rate, Yahya has accepted it now. The Security Council in essence killed the Soviet resolution last night. What we did after you and I talked—the British were horsing around with this nonpermanent residents resolution and the Soviets were running around with one. We just took the resolution of the others as ours.3 We had to because the Soviets were going to.… As it was the Soviet one was killed—never got to a vote. They adjourned and this was better for us. It means both sides have accepted the ceasefire.

P: As far as the Security Council is concerned, what will they do?

K: Well, my view is that if the fighting flares up again the attacker will be violating a UN order—this is the only advantage. The disadvantage is that it legitimizes aggression. Our position is if anyone wants to vote for our resolution we will be delighted to let it pass.

P: Yes, I think that is a good point. Now at the present time the Paks are satisfied, the Chinese are satisfied and the Russians. That is fine.

K: We have come out of this amazingly well and we scared the pants off the Russians. One shouldnʼt give somebody who drops a match into a fire credit for calling the fire department.

P: Are you going to do a background thing?

K: I talked to Scali. I will have a backgrounder with two or three groups of two each and in a general way explain our strategy. I think it is too early to put out the details.

P: Yes, I think that is very important. What will we get out of it?

K: Well, Henry Hubbard called me yesterday and he said the President did it again. We were all screaming at him and he was vindicated by events. And Kleiman was in from the New York Times this morning, but I didnʼt do too much with him.

P: He must be pretty pleased with the Azores trip.

K: The Azores he was delighted with but the Post had a grudging position.

P: I see. [1 line of source text not declassified]

[Page 852]

K: [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] What we can get out is that they were planning to attack but not say how.

P: Well, now if the question is raised about aid to India, I would be just completely … I wouldnʼt tell them anything. The thing to do is to do it but donʼt tell them anything. But on the other hand, it is what we do not what we say.

K: Mrs. Gandhi has written a letter4 which has been leaked to the press.

P: That is outrageous.

K: We are drafting a reply and I think we ought to release it.

P: Release it before she gets it.

K: Right, because that gives us another chance to make our case.

P: Now, what points … Does Scali think it is important for you to do the background thing?

K: Yes, he thinks it is essential.

P: What points are you going to get across basically?

K: The point that I want to get across …

P: What I mean is to bring on the details.

K: We have to let them know this was not a war just between India and Pakistan, but whatever are the initial reasons.

P: I think you ought to make the point very strongly that if we hadnʼt used our influence as strongly as possible, it never would have come out the way it did. The word would have been carried on from one UN member to another. I think that is the point.

K: Well, that is a good point and also that it would have had a very serious impact if the Soviet Union had…

P: And in other parts of the world it would have been resisted.

K: Your whole strategy from the beginning was to bring about what in fact we did. There are many who heard me talk about this last week.

P: That is right so they are prepared for it.

K: Even Henry Hubbard said for a few days we thought we had to change our evaluation a little bit, but you have come out right again. But what I will not do is put out all the exchanges. That is premature.

P: Yes, and I suppose we should stay away from any interagency bickering and all of that. I should think everyone is happy.

K: No, now they (State) want to take credit for it.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. Reference is to telegram 3516 from Colombo, December 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 6–3 US)
  3. In a conversation with Kissinger the evening of December 16, Bush described the U.S. draft resolution as “the Italian draft with just a slight change.” He said it was the text that Pakistan wanted and that China was prepared to accept. (Transcript of a telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 370, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. See Document 314.