28. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador Agha Hilaly
  • Harold H. Saunders

On Dr. Kissinger’s instructions relayed via Colonel Haig, I made an appointment with Ambassador Hilaly immediately after he returned to Washington from the West Coast and made the following points:

Dr. Kissinger asked me to call.
I understand that when Presidents Nixon and Yahya met, President Nixon said that the U.S. would welcome accommodation with Communist China and would appreciate it if President Yahya would let Chou En-lai know this.2
We thought perhaps there might be some uncertainty about what we had in mind and wanted to clarify our point along these lines:
The President did not have in mind that passing this word was urgent or that it required any immediate or dramatic Pakistani effort. He regards this as important but not as something that needs to be done immediately.
What President Nixon had in mind was that President Yahya might at some natural and appropriate time convey this statement of the U.S. position in a low-key factual way.
We would like to establish a single channel for any further discussion of this subject should President Yahya have any questions about what President Nixon intended or any impressions of Chinese views which he might wish to relay to President Nixon. We would like to see Ambassador Hilaly and Dr. Kissinger as the two points of contact.

The Ambassador said he felt there was no misunderstanding on this subject. To confirm, he walked to his desk and picked up what looked like 10 legal-sized pages which apparently constituted his record of the debriefing President Yahya had given him on the talk with President Nixon.

Reading from various parts of this record, he reconstructed the conversation between the two Presidents along the following lines:

President Nixon said that he thoroughly understands Pakistan’s points of view toward China.
President Yahya, discussing China’s view of the world, said that China feels surrounded by hostile forces—India, Soviet Union and the United States in Southeast Asia. China seeks no territory or war but will fight with no holds barred if war is thrust upon it. President Yahya stated his view that there is a need for a dialogue with China to bring China into the community of nations.
President Nixon stated it as his personal view—not completely shared by the rest of his government or by many Americans—that Asia can not move forward if a nation as large as China remains isolated. He further said that the US should not be party to any arrangements designed to isolate China. He asked President Yahya to convey his feeling to the Chinese at the highest level. When President Yahya said it might take a little time to pass this message, President Nixon replied that President Yahya should take his own time and decide for himself the manner in which he would communicate with the Chinese.

In concluding the conversation, Ambassador Hilaly said that Chou En-lai had been invited to Pakistan and had accepted but it was not clear when he would come. He said President Yahya might, in a conversation with the Chinese Ambassador, simply say that the US had no hostile intent toward Communist China but he would wait until he sees Chou En-lai to convey President Nixon’s specific views.

Harold H. Saunders 3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1032, Files for the President—China Material, Cookies II, Chronology of Exchange with the PRC, February 1969–April 1971. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Saunders on August 29. The meeting was held in the Pakistani Embassy.
  2. See Documents 20 and 26.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.