224. Telegram 1770 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • My Session With Foreign Secretary Kaul, February 10


  • State 022386
Summary: In session with Foreign Secretary Kaul, February 10, I presented positions agreed during my consultations in Washington and added my personal suggestions of steps GOI could take to improve our relations. Kaul welcomed much of what I had to say and generally reacted positively to my personal suggestions. He subsequently reviewed South Asia section of President’s foreign policy report, page by page, taking sharp exception in a number of instances and applauding other passages. These prellminary reactions being reported septel. Action requested: None. End summary.
In session lasting one hour and three-quarters with Foreign Secretary Kaul, February 10 I began by referring to our previous talk (New Delhi 6421 and told him that Washington had been pleased, as had I, over his initiative to improve Indo-US relations and there was willingness on Washington’s part to restore amicable relations with india. I then alluded to distortions in Indian press at which point Kaul interjected that Indian press had attempted to contact him but that he had refused to give any comment until after he had met me. Therefore, he assured me, [Page 2] that anything being said in the Indian press was not officially inspired.
I told Kaul that we were anxious to continue our dialogue and to try and find out from him what possible suggestions he might have in order to better our relations. I then said that I had several specific points which I had been authorized to make. I told him that:
The President recognized the pragmatic situation in this part of the world and that the matter of Bangla Desh was under discussion in Washington. A decision on the juridical status was a matter of time.
With regard to arms to Pakistan I had been authorized to state there was no present consideration being given to military sales to Pakistan.
We intended to participate in international humanitarian assistance for Bangla Desh.
As regards the Indian Ocean I drew on State 019307 and 020302, as amended by State 029081. I told Kaul that I understood the Indian Ocean had come up for discussion in the recent Indo-British bilateral talks and asked if he had anything he could tell me. Kaul explained that he had not been present at the time Indian Ocean had been discussed as he had been involved in his daughter’s wedding. He said he would be glad to inform me in due course and that there was no intention to hide such information.
I then alluded to the fact that the recently changed Indian policy requiring a specific statement whether a naval vessel carried nuclear armament had effectively precluded US naval ship visits to India since it was the firm policy of my government neither to confirm or deny the presence of such armament on any US vessel and that India was only country in the world with such a requirement. I explained that because of this policy good will visits of US naval vessels had to go to non-Indian ports.
At this point i referred again to matter of aid to Bangla Desh and told Kaul I understood India was now encountering the problems of a donor nation. When he inquired what such [Page 3] problems were I told him I understood that India had given the Government of Bangla Desh (GBD) $30 million equivalent for the express purpose of providing 30 rupees per refugee to assist in their resettlement inside Bangla Desh. I understood none of these rupees had yet found their way to the refugees. FYI I had learned that this morning from focal point Jamieson Kaul appeared to be surprised and proceeded to immediately telephone for information. When he hung up the phone he said he would have to get the details. He then added that the GBD was the best judge of how to distribute funds made available to them. Proposal that funds be turned over to refugees had only been an Indian suggestion. He said qte we cannot dictate to them unqte. The matter was presently under discussion.
In response to my question whether he wanted to hear some suggestions from me as to what India might do to improve relations, Kaul urged me to proceed to cite any steps that I thought India could take which would contribute to that objective, I began by referring to the qte fantastic strides unqte about the United States which appeared in the Indian press. I told him I knew that they had a free press, but my concern related to the failure of the government to deny qte outright lies unqte. In response to the Foreign Secretary’s question as to what stories I referred, I cited the claim that:
The Ins Khukri had been sunk by a US submarine.
That there had been a direct order from President Nixon to bomb Visakhapatnam.
That the Seventh Fleet had been dispatched to assist the Pakistani Army either by landing troops or evacuating Pakistani troops from East to West Pakistan, I told Kaul that I thought the Foreign Ministry spokesman who handled daily briefings could help a good deal by knocking down such fantasies. Kaul immediately attempted to telephone the Defense Secretary and the Chief of Naval Staff to inquire whether any contradiction had been issued to the allegation that an American submarine was responsible for sinking the Khukri. After some time he learned there had been no official Indian denial of the story but that the government acknowledged the denial which had been issued by the Embassy. He said the GOI could not be absolutely certain how the Khukri had been sunk. He pointed out that the government [Page 5] had not said that it had been sunk by an American submarine. He thought it best if the matter could be raised by a correspondent in a press conference and a suitable reply would be given. He implied he would find an occasion to make an appropriate statement when he next met with the press.
I told Kaul the points I had made were incidental to a general posture that should be taken by the Foreign Ministry spokesman. Kaul assured me that the GOI did not wish to impute anything to the USG which was not true. I told him that I realized it was not his intention but that there were elements in the press that were out to damage Indo-US relations and that believed it was a popular thing to do. From my stand point, when there were allegations as far out as these we would like to see them knocked down promptly.
I told Kaul the second suggestion I had I would put to him exactly as it had been put to me by Washington to qte tell them to get off our back on Vietnam unqte. I told him I knew that the GOI disagreed with our Vietnam policy, but that it didn’t help to keep hammering about it. I then referred to Kaul’s request for our intervention in connection with the burning of the Indian flag. Kaul asked me to send a message back to the USG that he had made a specific request to us in a friendly spirit because of our special relationship with the Saigon regime. He said qte if you can’t do it then please say you can’t do it unqte.
I then told Kaul that I did not know of any subject in which president Nixon had taken a greater personal interest than in the drug problem. I said that any help that India could give on that matter would be qte very much appreciated unqte. I explained that poppy growers in India received a relatively large income from licit sale of narcotics. I mentioned the situation that had occurred in Turkey where the growers had agreed to convert to other products which would net the farmers more than the poppies they were now growing. I told him I personally believed that the US might be willing to be helpful if India were to move in the direction of reducing the acreage devoted to poppies.
Again speaking personally, I told him that I understood that [Page 6] synthetics were beginning to take the place of narcotics and I believed that Indian pharmaceutical companies could produce such synthetics with know-how which it wouldn’t be unreasonable to request of us. I told him that I thought if the GOI said to us that they appreciated our motives, that they needed help from us in converting to other crops, we would probably be responsive.
The Foreign Secretary said he did not wish to give an off-the-cuff reply. He emphasized the situation in Turkey was very different from that in India. One method that could be followed would be to raise the price of licit sales so that there would be no incentive to smugglers. He suggested I might pass to him either a formal or unofficial note on the subject. I told him that my purpose was only to convey the idea that any cooperation the GOI could give us in controlling drug abuse would be deeply appriciated.
I then mentioned the American School, on which I will report septel, followed by reference to MAP training and we had set aside vacancies for training but that none of these had been utilized since the end of the war. the reason given had been a plausible one, that the forces were still completely deployed on the frontiers and therefore could not be available. i asked if this was in fact valid. Kaul replied that he would like to examine the matter and assured me that there was no policy not to send personnel to the United States. India sent military personnel for training to the Soviet Union, France and various other countries.
As for the USAF aircraft (which I said had been grounded) I told him that I presumed that if I asked to fly in it my request would be granted, and that it was my intention to seek to use the aircraft again before the end of the month. Kaul said that the entire matter of the use of foreign aircraft inside India was under discussion. Qte our air force is [Page 8] very touchy about it unqte. If the government decided it was in their national interest not to grant permission for such aircraft to operate, then permission would not be given. The matter was currently under discussion and had not yet been finalized. When I told Kaul I had plans for a visit in the near future to Calcutta he instructed Mrs. Menon to recommend to the air force that any request from me to use the aircraft should be approved.
Kaul then referred to the President’s foreign policy report and asked me for my comments based on my recent consultations in Washington. I told him that I found the report qte more conciliatory than I expected unqte. I had read it in the White House and had made minor suggestions which had been incorporated. I felt it was clear statement of recognition of the importance of India in this part of the world. Kaul thereupon said he wished to ask me various points about it and preceded to go through the statement page by page, making his comments. These will be reported septel.
Comment: Many of Kaul’s comments on the President’s statement only served to highlight differing views of our respective governments on past history. On these I gave him every bit as much as he gave me, and at times our respective rejoinders were sharp. In general, however, Kaul seemed sympathetic and responsive throughout the conversation, reflecting as apparent genuine desire to continue the dialogue and thereby achieve an improvement in our relations. Dept please repeat as desired.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA–US. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Sent by Keating with an instruction to deliver to Sisco at the opening of business on February 10.
  2. Ambassador Keating reported that he and Indian Foreign Secretary Kaul had discussed steps that could be taken to improve relations between the United States and India.