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

[Omitted here is discussion of the press reaction to Nixon’s meeting with French President Pompidou in the Azores, December 12–14, the prospect of India agreeing to a cease-fire with Pakistan, and prospects for preventing India from receiving U.S. aid already in the pipeline.]

P: If the Indians continue the course they are on we have even got to break diplomatic relations with them. Don’t you agree, Henry?

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 [crush?] West Pakistan, is there anything more that can be done? Are they going…

K: They gave us flat assurances there wouldn’t 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 don’t 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.

[Page 101]

P: The question is…

K: Well, the question is—let’s 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 can’t 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 won’t let them do this. Did the Jordans [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 you proved to be so untrustworthy we can’t deal with you on any issues. Let’s 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 don’t believe the President of the United States in a private meeting…

P: You don’t understand. We threatened it. Let’s 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 don’t 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, don’t let Smith have any further things on the Middle East and stop seeing Dobrynin under any circumstances.

[Page 102]

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 Friday night?2

K: Yes.

P: Now, Henry, I am not 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 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?

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.

K: Yes, Mr. President.

[Omitted here is additional discussion of cutting off U.S. aid to India.]

  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, from December 15–18; Kissinger was in Washington. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. December 17.