39. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • President Yahya and Communist China

I was visited at the end of the week by Ambassador Hilaly and by Sher Ali Khan, President Yahya’s Minister of Information and National Affairs who was here at the head of Pakistan’s UN delegation. Although Sher Ali may not quite be Yahya’s number two as he claims, he is apparently close.

Sher Ali came to report follow-up on your suggestion that President Yahya tell Chou En-lai that the US would welcome accommodation with Communist China.2

Sher Ali reported that Pakistan’s delegate to the Peking 20th Anniversary celebrations had been instructed to let the Chinese know that Yahya was prepared to discuss the subject of American intentions in Asia when Chou En-lai visits Pakistan, presumably early next year. Now Sher Ali felt that it would help President Yahya to have something specific to say to the Chinese, perhaps on US intentions on Vietnam. They could make a general pitch for the improvement of relations but that would be unlikely to provoke a specific response. President Yahya hoped that we might give him something to say.

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I told him that I would have to consult with you so that we could pass on a more precise formulation than I was prepared to do at that moment. I did tell him however that, if President Yahya were communicating with the Communist Chinese Ambassador, he might say confidentially that the United States is removing two of its destroyers from the Formosa Straits.3 I told him that he should not allow any misunderstanding of this move—it did not affect our basic position on Taiwan but it was an effort to remove an irritant. I told Sher Ali that we would be in touch with Ambassador Hilaly when we had something more precise to say.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 623, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. According to a handwritten and stamped notation, the memorandum was returned from the President on October 28.
  2. See Documents 20 and 26. The Pakistanis apparently were encouraged by the Department of State. Holdridge reported to Kissinger on September 16 that “The President’s interest in using the Pakistanis as a line of communication to the Chinese Communists has become known to a number of people in State. The attached Secret/Limdis cable reports a conversation in which Pakistani Ambassador Hilaly described [to Sisco] the President’s approach to President Yahya and reiterated Pakistan’s willingness to communicate with Peking.” Sisco raised the issue of Sino-American relations by suggesting that Pakistan could “find ways of persuading Chinese that U.S. wants to get along peacefully with them.” Holdridge continued, “I assume that Hilaly took Assistant Secretary Sisco’s remark as the approach for which he had been waiting.” (Memorandum from Holdridge to Kissinger, September 16; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 623, Country Files, Middle East, Pakistan, Vol. I) Telegram 154461 to Islamabad reporting the September 10 conversation between Sisco and Hilaly was attached. The full memorandum of conversation is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CHICOMUSSR
  3. See Document 34.
  4. President Nixon wrote at the bottom of the memorandum: “K—also open trade possibilities.”