135. Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

Kissinger: Indira Gandhi has written you a letter.

Nixon: I know about—

Kissinger: Well, no. We should answer it. Let me say one other thing.

Nixon: [unclear]

Kissinger: Well you can tell her—you can use it to bring pressure on her not to take military action. Also, I talked to the Pakistan Ambassador. He said that Yahya might appreciate a letter, which would give him an excuse to answer all the things by saying, listing all the things he’s doing because he can’t get any publicity here.

Nixon: No.

Kissinger: And conversely, Indira Gandhi, I checked with the Indian Ambassador, they’re getting so devious now—

Nixon: She wants—

Kissinger: She would like to be able to say that one result of her letter was—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger:—that you’ve written to Yahya. So everybody’s happy. The Pakistanis—

Nixon: But we don’t say anything against Yahya?

Kissinger: No, no. You just say you hope the refugees will soon be able to go back to East Pakistan. He will then reply to you that’s exactly what he wants. I’ve got it all arranged with the—

Nixon: Good. Go ahead.

Kissinger:—Embassy. Then you can take credit. You can tell the Indians to pipe down—

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: And we’ll keep Yahya happy.

Nixon: The Indians need—what they need really is a—

Kissinger: They’re such bastards.

Nixon: A mass famine. But they aren’t going to get that. We’re going to feed them—a new kind of wheat. But if they’re not going to have a famine the last thing they need is another war. Let the goddamn Indians fight a war [unclear].

Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there.

Nixon: The Indians?

Kissinger: Yeah.

Nixon: Sure.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Recording of Conversation between Nixon and Kissinger, Oval Office, Conversation No. 505–4. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation published here specifically for this volume.
  2. Nixon and Kissinger discussed a letter that had been received from Indian Prime Minister Gandhi and another to be sent to Pakistani President Yahya.