204. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

P: Hello.

K: Mr. President.

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to South Asia.]

[Page 2]

K: Incidentally, one thing I wanted to tell you which confirms what our expectation has been. The Indian Foreign Secretary has approached Keating and has said they are interested in an improvement of relations and they are prepared to open talks. So it’s going just the way we thought it would.

[Page 3]

P: Keating’s probably standing on his doorstep every morning waiting now.

K: Well, what we—my recommendation, Mr. President, is we cannot do much now before we go to China because the Chinese are psychopathic. We ought to get Keating back for consultation. It’s a good excuse to do it. He’s had this approach and we just want to have a good talk.

P: Yes, in the final analysis, of course, as we get towards election time, we want to improve relations with the Indians for American consumption.

K: Mr. President, by July we will have them improved.

P: Yes, and we’ll just do that, but don’t do a damn thing now. I couldn’t agree more. The reason is that it isn’t right. I’m just not going to do it from the standpoint of what’s right and wrong.

K: Well I predicted that by this time next year we’ll have better relations with them than we had before the crisis and I still maintain it. They need it for their own reasons. By July there’ll be visible progress so I think immediately now the thing to do is get Keating back, which is a conciliatory move and it puts a lid on it until we get back from China.

P: You want me to speak to Rogers on this.

K: No, we’ll just tell Rogers you want to talk to Keating in the light of reviewing the whole India situation.

P: Well, because this message is known, is it?

K: Oh yes.

P: Just say that I’ve written a note that I’d like to get Keating back to talk to him before we go to China.

K: Yes, I think...

P: Tell him not this week, I’d like to get him back next week.

K: Right. Oh yes, not this week. You don’t want it before the speech.

[Page 4]

P: That’s right. Next week we’ll say. We’ll have a good talk with him. But low visability, low profile.

K: It has another advantage that Keating is going to leak all over the place that the Indians made this approach to us.

P: Right, good.

K: Which will quiet the press down a bit because it will at least prove that we didn’t drive them toward the Soviets.

P: You don’t need to worry about his leaking it. Why don’t we leak it?

K: Yes, well, we’ll get it out.

P: Let’s leak it here.

K: I’ll get it out tomorrow.

P: Let John Scali know or someone like that. You know he knows how to get that stuff out.

K: Right.

[Page 5]

K: But I completely agree with what you said. That it would be a great mistake if we rushed toward the Indians now. Let them work their way back slowly.

P: That’s the way that Keating would do it though. He’ll say: Gee, isn’t this great. Now I can go in an make an offer of $300 million worth of aid. No sir. He just comes home for consultation.

K: You know what was interesting; they said they were willing to improve relations even without aid which. You see, they in a way are in a bad spot now because it was all very well for them to get Soviet aid to go into East Pakistan, but if the Soviets gain a lot of interest in Bangla Desh, that’s going to affect West Bengal. They cannot want the Communist Party in Bengal to be strong. Secondly, they’ll want to keep their army there. Thirdly, the Pakistanis are beginning to move towards the Soviets and the Soviets are not that eager to have the Indians relieved of their worries. So our long term position in the subcontinent curiously enough is better than it’s been in a long time.

P: But you say Bhutto, well, of course he moved towards the Soviets.

K: Well, partly Mr. President because the fact is our press writes these things as if it had something to do with who likes whom. The fact is that the Soviets have proved in this last crisis that they can deliver military equipment and diplomatic support and while you have done more than was conceiveable it still wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be given an ______ opinion. And that’s a fact to which people have to adjust now in that area.

P: Of course. They have to go where the power is.

K: They have to go where the reality is.

[Page 6]

P: Right. Not only where the power is but where the power can be delivered.

K: That’s right and that’s one of the handicaps that this constant domestic debate and Congressional restriction is imposing on us. And which in a second term I think you will want to address.

[Omitted here is conversation unrelated to South Asia.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 397, Telephone Conversations, Home File, Jan-Apr 1972. No classification marking. The omission is in the original transcription.
  2. Nixon and Kissinger looked toward improved relations with India, but not until mid-year.