59. Editorial Note

President Nixon and Henry Kissinger discussed developments in South Asia in the Oval Office of the White House the morning of May 26, 1971. Kissinger opened the conversation by referring to the letter that had recently been received from Prime Minister Gandhi (Document 46). Answering the letter, Kissinger said, would give the President the opportunity to “bring pressure on her not to take military action.” He added that he had talked to the Pakistani Ambassador who said that President Yahya would appreciate a letter from Nixon to give him an opportunity to respond with a litany of all the things he was doing to resolve the unrest in East Pakistan. Kissinger said that he and the Ambassador had it all worked out: Nixon would write that he hoped the refugees would soon be able to go back to East Pakistan and Yahya would respond that that was exactly what he wanted. Nixon could take credit for trying to pour calming oil on troubled waters. “You can tell the Indians to pipe down, and weʼll keep Yahya happy,” Kissinger said.

The conversation turned to what they saw as Indiaʼs role in fostering an insurgency in East Pakistan. Nixon said that “the goddamn Indians” were promoting another war. Kissinger agreed: “They are the most aggressive goddamn people around.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, May 26, 1971, 10:38–10:44 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 505–4) A transcript of this conversation is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 135.