276. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1

4018. Subject: Dalai Lama Visit to US. Ref: State 050041.2

I am aware that reftel had been cleared at White House level and I appreciate Washington’s concern over possibility that the Dalai Lama’s visit might become additional point of friction with Peking with whom we are attempting to develop useful dialogue. But there are other factors which in my view strongly militate against a flat rejection of the trip this year:
The Department should be aware that historically for past several years [1 line of source text not declassified] actively encouraged the Dalai Lama to make a trip to the US. Given the operating style of the Dalai Lama’s brother, Gyalo Thondup, it is possible that certain offices of the GOI are aware of this background, although we have no such evidence.
CAS is currently reducing its contribution to certain sensitive Tibetan programs [11/2 lines of source text not declassified].3
There is a strong likelihood, therefore, that taken together with our recent gestures toward Peking a total rejection of even a private visit at this juncture would be interpreted by the Tibetan leadership and the GOI not only as an insult to the Dalai Lama but also evidence that Washington has really gone soft on the Chicom issue to the point of “appeasing” Peking. As suggested by FonSec T.N. Kaul’s remarks during last year’s Indo-US bilaterals,4 there are those in the GOI who are increasingly prone to ask where shifting US position on China leaves India. I do not wish to dramatize this point, but as Indians examine the Nixon Doctrine it is a problem which we must handle with extreme care. (This, of course, is not to suggest that the GOI wants the Dalai Lama to make the trip. Indians have their own sensitivities re keeping the door open for dialogue with Peking.)
I realize that our free press and what might be characterized as a Tibetan lobby in the US would make it difficult to avoid USG attention to the Dalai Lama during his visit. Nevertheless, I believe that this problem can be resolved tactfully yet firmly, without unduly [Page 1144] upsetting Peking (certainly not as much as recent revelations of US arms supply to Taiwan).
Therefore, I urge that:
The Department revise its position to permit at least a private visit this year.
Both Department and Embassy make it clear to Tibetans that while USG will quietly provide appropriate security protection, we wish the visit be kept private with courtesy calls on USG officials limited to level stated reftel, and that we would expect the Dalai Lama and his entourage to refrain from using US as a forum for attacking Peking or generally engaging in politicking.
Pending reply this message, I am deferring approach to Tibetans.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 30 TIBET. Secret; Exdis. Also sent for the White House.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 275.
  3. See Documents 273 and 274.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–7, Documents 29 and 30.