256. Telegram 5044 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State, April 21, 1972, 1450Z 1 2

[Page 1]

SUBJ:

  • CALL ON FOREIGN MINISTER RE VIET-NAM APRIL 21

REFS:

  • A. STATE 067415; B. NEW DELHI 4957; C. STATE 069050

Department of State

TELEGRAM

P 211450Z APR 72

FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7243

5606Q

APR 21, 1972 18087

SECTION 1 OF 2 NEW DELHI 5044

1.
SUMMARY. I CARRIED OUT INSTRUCTIONS REF A AS MODIFIED BY REF C IN MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER APRIL 21. FOREIGN MINISTER HEARD ME OUT, THEN DENIED HIS STATEMENTS WERE BIASED, INDICATING HE BELIEVED GOI HAD OBLIGATION TO DESCRIBE SITUATION CLEARLY AS IT SEES IT. HE FURTHER ALLEGED GOI POSITION IN NO WAY REFLECTED PIQUE BUT RATHER WAS ITS OWN OBJECTIVE JUDGEMENT OF SITUATION. ON DEPARTING, MINISTER URGED THAT WE LET BYGONES BY BYGONES AND FOCUS ON FUTURE IMPROVEMENT IN OUR RELATIONS.
END SUMMARY.
2.
IN 45-MINUTE MEEITNG WITH FOREIGN MINISTER SWARAN SINGH APRIL 21 I CARREID OUT DEPARTMENT’S INSTRUCTIONS. JOINT SECRETARIES PARANJPE (EAST ASIA DIVISION) AND MENON (AMERICAS DIVISION) AS WELL AS DCM WERE PRESENT.
3.
I TOLD FOREIGN MINISTER THAT I WAS UNDER INSTRUCTIONS TO STATE THAT USG CONSIDERED HIS STATEMENT IN LOK SABHA APRIL 17, 1972 ON VIET-NAM QTE PARTICULARLY UNBALANCED UNQTE. I THEN ALLUDED BRIEFLY TO PRIME MINISTER’S INTERVIEW WITH BLITZ IN WHICH SHE IS REPORTED AS HAVING SAID THAT RESUMPTION OF US BOMBING IN VIET-NAM WAS A QTE DEPLORABLE STATE OF AFFAIRS, ESPECIALLY WHEN ALL INDICATIONS WERE THAT THE WAR WAS COMING TO AN END AND THAT THE AMERICAN FORCES WERE GOING TO WITHDRAW UNQTE. I TOLD HIM THAT I DID NOT PROPOSE TO DIGNIFY BLITZ BY REGISTERING AN OFFICIAL DEMARCHE BUT HOPE SHE HAD NOT RPT NOT BEEN ACCURATELY QUOTED.
4.
I THEN RECALLED THAT UNDERSECRETARY HAD MET WITH AMBASSADOR JHA APRIL 6 REGARDING ONE OF HIS EARLIER STATEMENTS AND NOTED THAT HE HAD FAILED TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT THE ORIGIN OF THE PRESENT INCREASED LEVEL OF FIGHTING IN VIET-NAM STEMMED [Page 2]FROM THE MASSIVE INVASION OF NORTH VIETNAMESE FORCES. I SAID THAT THE FACTS OF THE SITUATION HAD BEEN FAIRLY WELL SET FORTH IN MY ARTICLE IN THE COLUMN I WROTE IN THE AMERICAN REPORTER (FULL TEXT TRANSMITTED DEPARTMENT VIA USINFO 171255Z OF APRIL 17) AND I PROCEEDED TO HAND HIM TWO COPIES OF THE ARTICLE AND DESCRIBE IN SOME DETAIL THE HISTORY OF RECENT EVENTS WHICH BEGAN ON MARCH 30.
5.
I TOLD HIM THAT EVERY OBJECTIVE OBSERVER IN SOUTH VIET-NAM HAD RECOGNIZED THAT THE ORIGIN OF THE CURRENT FIGHTING HAD STEMMED FROM THE NORTH AND THAT IT HAD BEEN IN RESPONSE TO THIS MASSIVE INVASION FROM THE NORTH THAT WE HAD RESUMED OUR BOMBING. I THEN EMPHASIZED THAT THE OVERWHELMING COMPOSITION OF THE ATTACKING FORCE WAS NORTH VIETNAMESE IN ORIGIN AND NOT VIETCONG WHICH I SAID HAD NOW BEEN QTE VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED UNQTE AND ADDED THAT 12 OF NORTH VIET-NAM’S 13 OR 14 DIVISIONS WERE CURRENTLY FIGHTING OUTSIDE THEIR HOMELAND. IN SOUTH VIET-NAM, LAOS AND CAMBODIA THE FORCES OF THOSE COUNTRIES WERE DEFENDING THEMSELVES AGAINST THIS NORTH VIETNAMESE AGGRESSION.
6.
AFTER HEARING ME OUT FOREIGN MINISTER MADE FOLLOWING POINTS IN HIS REJOINDER:
A.
GOI POLICY FROM THE BEGINNING HAD BEEN THAT BOMBING SHOULD STOP.
B.
DISAGREED WITH MY OBSERVATION THAT FOR ALL PRACTICAL INTENTS AND PURPOSES THERE WAS NO EFFECTIVE VIETCONG (VC) FORCES. GOI BELIEVE A VC FIGHTING FORCE EXISTED, IT WAS CONTROLLED BY VC.
C.
SAID QTE WE ARE FIRMLY OF VIEW UNQTE THAT RESUMPTION OF FIGHTING DID NOT GIVE ANY RIGHT FOR THE RESUMPTION OF BOMBING QTE PARTICULARLY IN AREAS LIKE HAIPHONG AND HANOI WHICH WERE A LONG WAY FROM THE DMZ UNQTE. HE REFERRED TO MASSIVE ATTACKS ON CIVILIAN INSTALLATIONS BY AIR AND SEA FORCES AND SAID QTE WE ARE FIRMLY OF THE OPINION THERE WAS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS AT ALL UNQTE.
D.
GOI WAS INTERESTED IN RESTORATION OF PEACE WITHOUT ANY OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE.
E.
HE DID NOT ACCEPT THAT HIS STATEMENT CONSTITUTED A DEPARTURE FROM INDIA’S NEUTRAL POSITION. INDIA’S ROLE IN THE ICC DID NOT ENJOIN THEM FROM SAYING ANYTHING. IN HIS VIEW IT MEANT THAT THE GOI SHOULD SAY THINGS CLEARLY WITHOUT ANY BIAS. WHAT THEY SAID MIGHT NOT BE LIKED BY ANY PARTY. SAID HE WANTED TO ASSURE US THAT THEY QTE NEVER MADE STATEMENTS WITH A VIEW TO PLEASING ONE PARTY OR ANNOYING ANOTHER UNQTE.
F.
REFERING TO UNDERSCRETARY IRWIN’S CHARACTERIZATION TO AMBASSADOR JHA THAT THE FOREIGN MINISTER’S EARLIER STATEMENT HAD BEEN QTE AN UNFRIENDLY ACT UNQTE, FOREIGN MINISTER SAID IN FACT IT HAD BEEN A FRIENDLY ONE SINCE TRUE FRIENDSHIP CONSISTED OF LETTING ONE’S FRIENDS KNOW FRANKLY ONE’S VIEWS. HISTORY HAD BEEN WITNESS TO THE FACT THAT WHEN ONE COUNTRY HID ITS FEELINGS FROM A DESIRE TO AVOID UNPLEASANTNESS, IT OFTEN LED TO GREAT TRAGEDY. HE ASSURED ME AGAIN THAT HIS STATEMENTS HAD QTE NOT AT ALL BEEN MOTIVATED BY ANY UNFRIENDLY FEELINGS. WE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE FRIENDLY RELATIONS UNQTE. FOREIGN MINISTER ASKED ME TO CONVEY ON HIS BEHALF THAT THE REAL MOTIVATION AND SPIRIT BEHIND HIS STATEMENT WERE TO SHARE WHAT GOI BELIEVED WERE THE FACTS IN THE SITUATION. THIS WAS DONE IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE AND REMOVING ANY INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING. FOREIGN MINISTER THEN SAID THAT FOR UNDERSECRETARY IRWIN TO DESCRIBE HIS REMARKS AS AN QTE UNFRIENDLY ACT UNQTE WAS ITSELF AN UNFRIENDLY ACT. HE AGAIN ASSURED ME THAT THEY HAD NOT TAKEN THEIR POSITION IN ANY FIT OF ANGER. THERE WAS NO PIQUE IN THIS (HE SAID PICK).
G.
HE THEN REFERRED TO THE TACTICAL SITUATION IN PARLIAMENT AT THE TIME HE MADE HIS SPEECH AND SAID THAT ALL PARTIES IN THE HOUSE, INCLUDING SWATANTRA, MUSLIM LEAGUE AND ALL OTHERS, HAD JOINED IN CONDEMNING THE BOMBING ATTACK ON HANOI AND HAIPHONG. NEVER IN RECENT PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY HAD THERE BEEN SUCH UNANIMITY ON A MATTER IN WHICH INDIA WAS NOT DIRECTLY CONCERNED. IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES HE FELT THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT QTE ERUPTION OF EMOTION UNQTE WAS TO STATE CLEARLY WHAT GOI CONSIDERED ELEMENTS IN SITUATION AND THAT IS WHAT HE HAD DONE.
H.
HE EXPLAINED THERE WAS A NON-OFFICIAL DAY IN PARLIAMENT EVERY TWO WEEKS WHICH WAS TODAY AND A RESOLUTION HAD BEEN PROPOSED BY A CPI MEMBER TO THE EFFIECT THAT THIS HOUSE CONDEMNS THE RECENT MOUNTING SAVAGE ATTACKS (SIC) OF US AIR AND NAVAL FORCES OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM ON VIETNAM UNQTE, I POINTED OUT THIS WAS EVEN STRONGER THAN RESOLUTION ADOPTED AT TIME USSR INVADED CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND I ASSUMED IF IT CAME UP IT COULD BE AMENDED TO USE WORD QTE DEPLORE UNQTE. HE AGREED THAT WAS SO.
I.
HE THEN SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF VIET-NAM WAS HE THOUGHT QTE VERY FOOLISHLY UNQTE PUTTING UP ALL MANNER OF PROBLEMS WHICH SERVED TO QTE PUT UP THE BACK UNQTE OF THE PARLIAMENT. GOI POSITION ON ICC DID NOT DEPEND ON SOUTH VIETNAM. HE SAID HE HAD NO DOUBT THAT SOUTH VIETNAM WOULD BE THE LOSER.
7.
I TOLD THE FOREIGN MINISTER THAT I SAW NO POINT IN NY DEBATING WITH HIM THE ROLE OF INDIA IN ICC. WE HAD ALREADY REGISTERED OUR VIEW REGARDING THEIR DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION OF DRV. I TOLD HIM I THOUGHT THE PASSAGE OF A RESOLUTION THAT HE HAD READ TO ME WOULD BE UNFORTUNATE AND WOULD HAVE A FURTHER QTE DELETERIOUS UNQTE EFFECT ON RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES WHICH I WOULD REGRET TO SEE. THERE WAS CLEARLY A DIFFERENCE IN OUR POINTS OF VIEW AS TO WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RESUMPTION [Page 5]OF HOSTILITIES. WE CONSIDERED THAT NORTH VIETNAM WAS RESPONSIBLE. INDIA CONSIDERED THE ESCALATION CAME FROM THE BOMBING NORTH OF THE DMZ. FOREIGN MINISTER INTERJECTED AT THIS POINT TO SAY QTE VERY DEEP TO THE NORTH UNQTE. I TOLD HIM THAT WAS THE AREA THEIR SUPPLIES WERE COMING FROM, PARTICULARLY THEIR PETROLEUM SUPPLIES.
8.
I REMINDED THE FOREIGN MINISTER THAT SOME TIME BACK FOREIGN SECRETARY KAUL HAD TOLD ME THERE WAS NO DESIRE TO SEE SOUTH VIETNAM TAKEN OVER BY THE NORTH. I ASKED IF THAT WAS STILL THE VIEW OF THE GOI. FOREIGN MINISTER FIRST SAID QTE WE DON’T BACK THE TAKING OVER OF ANY TERRITORY BY FORCE BY ANY PARTY UNQTE. HE THEN BACKED AWAY FROM THIS STATEMENT BY SAYING THAT THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WERE ALL VIETNAMESE AND IT SHOULD BE FOR THEM TO SORT THEIR OLD PROBLEMS THEMSELVES. HE BELIEVED THAT A QTE STRONG COUNTRY LIKE YOURS UNQTE SHOULD ATTEMPT TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE BY NEGOTIATIONS BY PEACEFUL MEANS RATHER THAN USE A QTE SLEDGEHAMMER TO KILL A FLY UNQTE. I TOLD HIM THAT WE SIMPLY DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE POSITION OF ANY COUNTRY WHICH OVERLOOKED THE FACT OF THIS CLEAR MASSIVE INVASION FROM THE NORTH.
9.
FOREIGN MINISTER ASKED IF THERE WERE ANY CHANCES OF RESUSCITATING PEACE TALKS IN PARIS. I TOLD HIM WE WERE READY IF THE NORTH WOULD CALL OFF THEIR INVASION AND GET THEIR TROOPS OUT THE WAY WE HAD. WE HAD BEEN WITHDRAWING OUR FORCES AT THE VERY TIME THAT THE NORTH VIETNAMESE WERE BEEFING UP THEIRS. THERE WAS A LIMIT TO WHAT WE COULD PUT UP WITH. FOREIGN MINISTER ASKED IF THESE DEVELOPMENTS WERE LIKELY TO QTE COME IN THE WAY OF THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT THAT HE WANTS TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FURTHER UNQTE. I TOLD HIM I EXPECTED NO CHANGE IN OUR POLICY WITH REGARD TO WITHDRAWING OUR GROUND FORCES. WE HAVE STATED WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF REINTRODUCING ADDITIONAL GROUND FORCES AND WE HAVE NO INTENTION TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
10.
FOREIGN MINISTER SAID WITH REGARD TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS HE HAD SAID AS MUCH IN THE PARLIAMENT EVEN WITHOUT HAVING HEARD IT DIRECTLY FROM ME.
11.
AS I MADE A MOVE TO BREAK OFF OUR DISCUSSION THE FOREIGN MINISTER SAID HE WANTED TO OFFER GREETINGS AND CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SUCCESSFUL LANDING OF OUR QTE COSMONAUTS UNQTE ON THE MOON. HE WANTED TO CONVEY HIS AND THE INDIAN PEOPLE’S BEST WISHES FOR THE COMPLETE SUCCESS OF OUR MISSION,
12.
AS WE WERE LEAVING THE FOREIGN MINISTER SAID THAT HE WANTED TO SEE IMPROVED RELATIONS BETWEEN US. HE CALLED ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT IN RESPONSE TO ACCUSATIONS IN PARLIAMENT REGARDING THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE SEVENTH FLEET IN THE BAY OF BENGAL. THAT HE HAD REPLIED THAT ONE CANNOT EXPECT GREAT POWER LIKE THE US TO ADMIT IT HAD SEEN WRONG. THE THING NOW WAS TO CONSIDER THAT WHAT WAS PAST WAS PAST AND WE SHOULD FOCUS ON OUR FUTURE RELATIONS.
13.
REF PARA 3 REF A LAST SENTENCE, COMPLIANCE EASY SINCE FOR SOME TIME I HAVE NOT RPT NOT BEEN INVITED TO SUCH SOCIAL EVENTS.
14.
COMMENT: FOREIGN MINISTER SPOKE IN HIS USUAL CALM AND MEASURED TONES AND I BELIEVE HE IS SINCERE IN HIS DESIRE TO SEE AN IMPROVEMENT IN OUR RELATIONS DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GOI CLEARLY HAS CONCLUDED THAT THE NORTH VIETNAMESE AND THEIR VIETCONG ALLIES WILL BE THE EVENTUAL VICTORS IN INDO-CHINA.

GP- 1.

KEATING
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL INDIA’US. Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. Ambassador Keating registered with Indian Foreign Minister SINGH an objection to his "unbalanced" statement about the U.S. bombing campaign in North Vietnam. SINGH denied that his statement was biased and argued that it was an "objective judgment" on the situation as he saw it. He felt the issue should not prejudice progress toward improved relations.