205. Telegram 642 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • Foreign Secretary’s Approach for Improved Indo-U.S.Relations

Begin summary: During January 15 call on Foreign Secretary, he used occasion to make overture for improved Indo-U.S. relations. Approach not motivated by ulterior motives such as desire for U.S. aid, he said, but “on higher plane”. Requested USG to consider and reply to Indian interest on improved relations. Action requested: Please prepare appropriate response to be conveyed to Foreign Secretary. End summary.

In characteristic Kaul fashion, Foreign Secretary called me in January 15 ostensibly to discuss situation in Saigon (reported septel), but had other, more important matters on his mind. Kaul opened [Page 2] conversation by saying that time has come to improve Indo-U.S. relations. If there is desire to have better relations on part of Washington, he said, two sides should do something about it. If not, and Washington wanted to allow continued drift, that was another matter. Kaul requested that I convey this message to Washington with hope that it would be considered and reply given. As far as India is concerned, he said, there is desire to improve relations.
Kaul said that he felt both sides unduly influenced by press, and cited reports that Ambassador Jha in “deepfreeze” in Washington. He said he had queried Jha on these reports and Jha had informed him that he is not in “deepfreeze” and has access to whomever he wants to see. Kaul said he was gratified at Jha’s report.
Kaul said he wanted to make completely clear that this approach not motivated by any desire to see restoration of economic asistance or other “ulterior motives.” Kaul said he was speaking on “much higher plane” and that GOI felt relations between our two countries were too important to be “subverted”.
I replied that I was gratified at GOI overture for better relations (Kaul did not balk at my intentional use of “overture”). I said I would, of course, transmit his views to my government and that I hoped it would have some positive suggestions. Nothing would please me more, I said than to see our relations restored. I cautioned Kaul that it might take some time for a substantive reply.
I told Kaul I was particularly glad that he felt our two governments should not be unduly influenced by press and noted that recent Indian press reports of alleged sinking of Indian frigate Khukri by U.S. submarine and Defense Minister’s remarks about U.S. support for use of Pak submarine Ghazi to attack Visag naval base were extremely damaging to Indo-U.S. relations. Both Kaul and Joint Secretary Menon hurriedly denied that Defense Minister had made statements attributed to him in press press journal.
Regarding Kaul’s statement that approach was on higher plane and did not involve question of economic assistance, I said that I had noted frequent statements by various senior [Page 3] GOI officials, including Prime Minister herself, to effect that India must get away from too much reliance on foreign aid. U.S. felt this attitude commendable, I said, and added that main purpose of U.S. economic assistance had been to enable aided countries to stand on their own feet.

Comment: I am gratified at Kauls’s initiative to improve relations and would hope I could be authorized to make a positive response. Specific suggestions in that regard will follow septel.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA–US. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Islamabad, Moscow, London, Madras, Calcutta, Bombay, and Bangkok for Nelson Gross, the Secretary’s Coordinator for International Narcotics Affairs.
  2. Ambassador Keating reported that Foreign Secretary Kaul told him that his Government felt the time had come to improve relations between India and the United States.