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271. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Proposed Recognition of Mongolian People’s Republic

Secretary Rogers has proposed that we recognize Mongolia (Tab A).2 Mr. Helms and the Department of Defense have concurred in the recommendation.

The U.S. Government has several times in the past few years considered the recognition of Mongolia, and has refrained from doing so largely because of questions of timing.3

In recent informal contacts, Mongolian representatives have indicated an interest in U.S. recognition of their country.4 In the past, Outer Mongolia considered the Vietnam war as a barrier to relations with the U.S.

Mongolia is more completely under Soviet domination than any other small Communist state. Nevertheless, it is a member of the UN and other international organizations, and it participates in a moderate range of international activities. It undoubtedly wishes to establish its identity as a sovereign state. It is recognized by all Communist and many non-Communist states.

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The arguments for and against U.S. recognition, from the standpoint of U.S. interests, are as follows:

Pro:

  • —[2 1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
  • —Opportunity to station political observers in a vital zone of Soviet/Chinese interaction.
  • —Political utility of recognizing an Asian Communist state for the first time, and blunting charges of applying different yardsticks to Europe and Asia.
  • —A small contribution to the development of Mongolia’s independent contacts with the outside world, which may strengthen its sense of national identity and a national viewpoint, and may contribute to the fractioning of the Communist world.

Con:

  • —Both Chinas would see recognition as an “anti-Chinese” gesture.
  • —Possible misinterpretation at this juncture as an effort to meddle in Sino/Soviet border tensions resulting from the incidents on the Ussuri. (It is proposed to meet this objection by waiting for a short period before proceeding, on the assumption that attention to the incidents will die down.)

On balance, I believe that we are justified in going ahead with the recognition of Mongolia. The advantages are real if limited. The Taipei reaction will be loud and unfavorable. However, it has long anticipated such a move, and its objections should not determine our decision. (The Chinese Communists of course recognize Mongolia, though perhaps somewhat grudgingly, and the Republic of China once recognized Mongolia and then “withdrew” the recognition. Neither has a very strong case that U.S. recognition is aimed at them.) There are even advantages at this time in demonstrating to both Chinas that we can and will take independent actions in pursuit of our own interests.

Most other countries would show little concern one way or the other. We assume that the Mongols would not invite us to establish diplomatic relations, and we could not establish a mission in Ulan Bator, without Soviet acquiescence. Our Mongol contacts have told us that they do not think the Soviets would be opposed; a Soviet Embassy officer in Washington recently expressed no concern over the possibility, and Embassy Moscow believes that the Soviets would be in favor. Japan simply wants sufficient advance notice to set its own house in order; it has actually explored the possibility of recognition with the Mongols and might wish to resume the negotiations. India would be delighted.

If we were to recognize Mongolia, there might be a flurry of speculation that our East Asian policy was somehow softening, but this would probably be short-lived, since informed opinion will recognize that the action is anything but a move toward China.

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We do not anticipate Congressional opposition, and some Congressmen will favor the move. The Department of State intends, however, to sound out Congressional opinion and to stop for stock-taking if serious Congressional opposition should appear.

Recommendation

That you authorize the Department of State to undertake discussions with the Mongolian People’s Republic for the purpose of extending diplomatic recognition and exchanging diplomatic missions.5

Approve

Disapprove

Other

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 553, Country Files, Far East, Mongolia, Vol. I. Secret; Exdis. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed is a 2-page memorandum from Rogers to the President, April 10, and a 4-page report, March 26, prepared by Bundy and Hillenbrand concerning the recognition of Mongolia. The March 26 report includes telegrams from Moscow, New Delhi, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei on possible reaction to recognition.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXX, Documents 344347.
  4. Kissinger’s March 18 daily briefing memorandum for the President noted that “Within the past few weeks, the chief Mongolian representative to the Intelsat Conference in Washington and the Mongol Ambassador to New Delhi have sought out US representatives to express an interest in close US/Mongol ties.” Kissinger concluded: “I think this idea has merit. Relations would provide us with a good listening post. The Soviets would probably welcome it as a strengthening of their buffer between China and I do not believe that this action would have any particular effect on our relations with Communist China.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 3, President’s Daily Briefs)
  5. The President initialed his approval. Telegram 64797 to Taipei, April 25, ordered McConaughy to inform the ROC of this initiative. (Ibid., Box 518, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. I)