88. Telegram Secto 70 From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State1 2

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  • Secretary’s Visit to UN: Call on Prime Minister Gandhi.
Summary. Secretary raised US arms sale to Pakistan and expressed hope Indian reactions would be kept in perspective. Prime Minister made clear that GOI was agitated over issue and expressed belief reaction would become even more extreme when Parliament convenes in November. She claimed arms given to Pakistan could only be used against India. At request Foreign Minister, Secretary agreed US to consider making clearer publicly that arms package was one-time exception. Secretary pointed out that many actions of GOI appeared unbalanced against US and contrary to India’s expressed policy of non-alignment. Foreign Minister claimed India makes its own policy and not result Soviet pressure. Secretary pointed out difficulty USG had with members of Congress, particularly House Appropriations Committee, who felt India not pursuing a balanced approach. Prime Minister made oblique and unspecific accusations that US interfering in Indian internal affairs. Efforts of Secretary and Sisco to elicit specific charges were unavailing. A meeting was arranged between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Singh for Saturday, October 24, to discuss Indian accusations further.
Place: Carlyle Hotel, Mrs. Gandhi’s suite. Participants: Secretary Sisco, Schneider and Blackiston. Indians: Prime Minister Gandhi, Foreign Minister Sawarn Singh; Foreign Secretary T.K. Kaul; Ambassador to US Jha; Mr. Haksar, Secretary to Prime Minister.
As conversations opened, Secretary expressed hope that FonMin Singh could stay on and see him in Washington after sign indicated his plan to return with Prime Minister.
Secretary indicated pleasure at opportunity to talk [Page 2] with Mrs. Gandhi. Raising subject US offer of military equipment to Pakistan, Secretary said he had been authorized to say on behalf of the President that this was one-time decision. It does not at all involve going any further. It does not represent the beginning of a new policy or any change in policy. Secretary explained we appreciated views of GOI on US offer and hoped Indian reaction was under control and in perspective.
Mrs. Gandhi replied that reaction in press and among political parties would become more sharp when Parliament convenes. When Secretary indicated US accustomed to criticism, Mrs. Ghadhi replies this was not unfair criticism. Just at point when it seemed there could be better relations the spiral starts again. Secretary inquired if our decision had effect on Indo-Pak relations. Prime Minister replied this has hurt relations between US and India. Pakistan will step up its propaganda. “They cannot use arms against anyone but us.” “We do not think china is going to attack us but we cannot withdraw our forces from the frontiers.” Pak does not have this problem. “Reaction in India is very sharp.”
Secretary said we think we have done the right thing. He expressed surprise that Indians have not reacted similarly against Russia and France for their arms supply to Pakistan. Prime Minister indicated same objections prevail to Russian arms supply. Pakistan, she said, has already used US arms against us despite pledges previously made. When a country starts collecting arms sooner or later it will use them. Secretary replied we are just not in a position to cut off our relations with Pakistan. We have done a great deal economically for both India and Pakistan. Prime Minister expressed view that US relations with Pakistan would not suffer even if no arms given. Secretary said we considered our position to be balanced between India and Pakistan. However, we have not always felt India’s non-aligned policy balanced. Secretary repeated his authorization by President to state that Pakistan arms deal was one-time affair. He expressed desire for good relations and said USG does not wish to do things to hurt India but we do have to take into consideration US national interest. We wish to cooperate with India, but feel US has been unfairly criticized by GOI. Prime Minister said India has had much in common with US but “some things affect us deeply.”
Secretary responded that “some matters affect us deeply.” He noted US casualties of over 40,000 Americans killed in Vietnam. Regarding Vietnam we have done everything we have been asked to do. We have unanimity of US public opinion regarding this issue and many non-aligned countries near hostilities agree with us. Prime Minister expressed belief US desired to stop spread of communism and contain China. We don’t think it has done this. Secretary said policy has succeeded with countries on periphery of China. They have done very well economically and they are appreciative of our efforts. The farther you get from the scene, the less appreciation there is. Prime Minister said time will tell. Secretary noted that in Cambodia the population supports Lon Nol government. Foreign Minister noted that India is the closest to China having mutual frontier. Secretary inquired whether India did not have concern over China. Foreign Minister said “yes, we do.” Prime Minister said Pakistan has very close relations with China. Sisco noted that this is why US thinks that we should have good relations with Pakistan Government; more influence US has in Pakistan better it is for Indian American parallel interests.
Kaul said Pakistan will get more arms from China and Soviets used same argument regarding supply of arms to Pakistan that US does. Sisco expressed hope current situation would not be blown out of all proportions. The arms agreement with Pakistan was a one-time exception. Foreign Minister said it was difficult for GOI to state in Parliament that it was “one time” unless USG had said this in public. Secretary responded that “we can think about this.” Schneider noted that Ambassador Keating has already told press in New Delhi it was one-time exception. Kaul raised question of whether it was “limited” exception or “one time” exception. Secretary and Sisco said USG will consider making clearer publicly that this was a one-time exception.
Secretary observed that US and India have had good relations and it would not be desirable to let this situation get out of hand. US Congress does not think India appreciates what we have done for it. Congress believes India’s non-aligned policy is aligned against us and this is attitude of many people on the House Appropriations Committee. We appreciate Prime Minister views but we have reaction in our own country. Prime Ministry said “this is because they don’t understand what India stands for. We are fighting for our survival.” She stated that if she approved a policy contrary to that which she was following, she would be “wiped out.” “I have been fighting for this all my life.” The people know I am trying to take the country in a direction they want it to go. Indian people will not have a dictatorship. “They are too politically conscious.” India has never done something just because the USSR wants it. Our decisions are our own. However, the USSR generally follows policies of the Afro-Asian countries.
Secretary noted US has fought wars for freedom. US [Page 5] does not expect everyone to agree with us but we do not like unjustified criticism. We have done a lot for many countries. Every American in this room has fought not only for our freedom but for that of other countries as well. Prime Minister said she does not personally care who criticized her either inside or out of the country. She did whatever was necessary “even if it cost her her life.”
Prime Minister said that since we are speaking frankly “there is a great deal of interference in our internal affairs.” Secretary asked for explanation and details. What was the Prime Minister referring to? He noted that former FonMin Denesh Singh had made similar accusations about our cultural centers. Prime Minister said “it is very difficult to say. It is support to people who are against us.” “In my father’s time it was to those people who opposed him.” Secretary said if there was anything Prime Minister could point to, we will certainly stop it. He said he was very unhappy about the previous Foreign Minister’s comments about our cultural centers. “I wrote him and asked him what he meant.” He replied that he didn’t mean us but then only our centers were closed. Secretary said he would like Foreign Minister to think about what had been said and let him know the specifics. Sisco commented that we did not know what Prime Minister meant when she referred in recent speech to economic pressured. He said that when US gives india millions of dollars of aid it is for common purposes and not with political strings. We do not understand such references to pressures. Secretary said we have no desire to pressure you. The easiest thing for the US is to become isolationist.
Secretary and Sisco will meet privately with Foreign Minister Singh and Ambassador Jha in follow-up meeting Saturday, October 24.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 596, Country Files, Middle East, India, Vol. III, Sept 70–30 June 71. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Also designated USUN 2711. Sent with a request to repeat to New Delhi and Rawalpindi. In an October 26 letter to Keating, Schneider described the conversation between Gandhi and Rogers as “a very difficult one,” but he felt that the exchange was colored by the fact that both were tired at the end of a stressful day of meetings and speeches. (Department of State, NEA/INC Files: Lot 77 D 51, Eyes Only Correspondence, 1969/1970) Gandhi set the tone for the meeting by declining an invitation from Nixon to attend a dinner the President was hosting in Washington for heads of state attending the General Assembly. (Telegrams 173630 and 176269 to New Delhi, October 21 and 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 INDIA, and ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 596, Country Files, Middle East, India, Vol. III, Sept 70–30 Jun 71) Jha explained that Gandhi’s decision related to scheduling commitments on her return trip to India, but Keating saw it as a “studied affront related in large part to our decision to sell arms to Pakistan.” (Telegram 12939 from New Delhi, October 19; ibid., RG 59, Conference Files, Box 519, 1966–1972: Lot 71 D 227, CF 469)
  2. Secretary of State Rogers and Indian Prime Minister Gandhi had a sharp exchange in New York growing out of the Indian reaction to the U.S. decision to supply additional arms to Pakistan.