236. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • Aziz Ahmed, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defense, Pakistan
  • Amb. Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan, Pakistan Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Iqbal Riza, Minister-Counselor
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Amb. Philip C. Habib, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Jr. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

Ahmed : Tonight is the debate.

Kissinger : I read in the papers they are coming after me.

I know all of Carter’s advisors. They worked for me. For them to come after me for being soft, after attacking me for six years as a war criminal. [Laughter]

[Coffee is served]

The last time I saw your Ambassador, he immediately went back to Pakistan. The last time I saw you, you went back to Pakistan. Does this mean something? (Laughter)

[Page 2]

I assume you brought the answers.

How is the Prime Minister?

Ahmed : Very well, thank you.

Kissinger : I feel a very great affection for him.

Ahmed : He sends his regards and he asked me to congratulate Dr. Kissinger on Africa. He hopes it’s good for Africa, and good for President Ford.

Kissinger : It wasn’t done for that reason.

They can’t both lose, but every week, there is some suicidal step. For the President, there are things over which he has no control. John Dean has the distinction of ruining more people at the age of 35 than any other.

I know Earl Butz. He is not a racist. You know him, Mr. Ambassador.

Yaqub-Khan : No, he’s not.

Kissinger : But he has an unrestrainedly loose tongue. Every bad taste joke he’s ever heard, he repeats. That one was inexcusable.

Ahmed : The President should do well tonight.

Kissinger : He should. The problem is that on television everyone looks even. Carter can make 50 charges. The President will have a hard time because everyone expects him to do better. For an expert, it’s easy to see Carter’s foreign policy will be a disaster. For Carter to go to the right of the President is absurd; the structure of the Democratic Party won’t allow it; his convictions won’t allow it—a man who’s come out against arms sales, for Italian Communist participation. It will be a nasty debate.

That being said, the main lines of our foreign policy will be the same no matter who wins.

Ahmed : It’s a bipartisan foreign policy; it has to be.

[Page 3]

Kissinger : But for him to try to be on the right is absurd.

Ahmed : But the President will be on the stronger wicket.

Kissinger : He will be.

Ahmed : I have two basic points.

The Prime Minister sent me to Mexico to have me put forward formally this proposal for a Third World Summit.

Kissinger : At Echeverria’s Institute.

Ahmed : It was the Group of 77. But this upset the nonaligned conference quite a bit—that it would overshadow the Nonaligned Summit. The more I think of it, the more I think it will. [Laughter]

Incidentally, the Latin Americans told me they think it would be good to bring the Nonaligned Summit down a notch or two.

Kissinger : What is the difference?

Ahmed : This is a meeting of the Group of 77. No non-member can join. The Third World Summit goes beyond the Group.

Kissinger : Every less developed country should belong. It depends on the state of economic development.

Ahmed : Yes. The Mexicans said: “We are the majority. You dare not change a comma.”

The Yugoslav leader asked me: Is China coming? I said that is a matter for decision by the group. He said if China comes, it could create problems with the Soviet Union.

The Indians are upset.

Kissinger : If the Indians are upset, you won’t proceed, because of the Simla spirit. [Laughter]

[Page 4]

Ahmed : It won’t embarrass us!

The group finally took note of the proposal and said the Group of 77 should consider it.

I must say we were surprised by the reaction. The meeting took it as far as it could.

The other thing is a change for the better in the North Korean attitude. You know the resolution was withdrawn.

Kissinger : Yes.

Ahmed : And they feel that matters should be negotiated with the United States.

Kissinger : I don’t know why they are not willing to discuss it with South Korea and the United States, because we could then discuss things bilaterally with them.

Ahmed : They wanted talks between North Korea and the United States, rather than between North and South Korea. I will pass it on.

Kissinger : You can certainly tell them there is no organic hostility to North Korea. What we can’t do is let them use it for tactical reasons to undermine South Korea. If they are willing to do it in that framework, we are willing.

Ahmed : I will pass it on.

I am at your disposal.

Kissinger : I asked a question of your Ambassador.

Yaqub-Khan : You asked at Lahore whether it was the understanding that the French wouldn’t take the initiative.

Kissinger : My understanding at Lahore was that you didn’t want to take the initiative. My impression of Giscard was that he wasn’t willing. So, either both were coordinating to avoid a decision, or it was a practical problem of neither being able to do it.

[Page 5]

Yaqub-Khan : Your understanding is correct—the latter. As long as the initiative doesn’t come from us, we are willing to hear whatever formula … The emphasis was on not taking the initiative.

Kissinger : You notice, since my visit to Lahore, we have made no public statements. I have lived up to what the Prime Minister and I discussed.

Now, theoretically, probably neither of you can discuss a proposal by the United States either. We ought to be able to come up with a formula.

You know our Congressional situation. We are probably coming up with a nonproliferation policy before Congress comes back. Because if we don’t, Congress will legislate punitive measures.

Yaqub-Khan : Yes, the Symington Amendment.

Kissinger : That we could manage, but the Percy, Zablocki measures…

Yaqub-Khan : … are much stronger.

Kissinger : And give no executive discretion.

Ahmed : We are not coordinating with France.

Kissinger : At what point does this become irreversible?

Ahmed : We have taken care not to take any overt step that embarrasses you. There is a St. Gobain man coming to Pakistan on October 15 to talk about preliminaries. No opening ceremony is planned until we are clear it won’t embarrass you.

Kissinger : It is not a question of embarrassing us. After November 2, if we are elected, Congress will act. If Carter is elected, Congress and the President will act against you. I think he will be eager to make a dramatic initiative on the proliferation issue. He may not pick on Pakistan.

Yaqub-Khan : He will. He will do it tonight.

Kissinger : Last week I would have said he will probably lose the election. This week I can’t tell. It’s 50-50.

[Page 6]

Ahmed : In any case we won’t do anything to hurt your position before the election. The Prime Minister made this clear. As long as possible.

I am sure you will appreciate this. It is not that we are being obstinate. If Carter’s Administration or your administration takes firm measures against countries wanting to acquire reprocessing plants, that is perfectly justifiable for your own reasons. But when you do it…

Kissinger : Against one country.

Ahmed : Not only that, but retroactively. If you had done it before we made this decision…

Kissinger : We have been sort of against it but not…

Ahmed : No, you didn’t.

Kissinger : Then we are at fault.

Ahmed : This project has been under discussion for three years.

You assume we have an intention of doing something other than peaceful purposes. You are free to assume it.

Kissinger : No, I think the Prime Minister is trying to give Pakistan the option of using it for that, in an emergency.

The problem is when you look at it globally, proliferation is a problem. This isn’t conclusive for an individual country, particularly if it doesn’t have nuclear weapons.

Ahmed : This is not the Prime Minister’s objective.

Kissinger : But I don’t think he would need reprocessing now if he had only the intention of peaceful uses. He’d wait until he had the reactors.

We won’t go on a crusade but we have to be against the spread of reprocessing plants, for reasons I described in my speech and the President will describe next week.

What is your answer?

[Page 7]

Yaqub-Khan : Your understanding of the Prime Minister’s attitude was correct. I was wrong. The Prime Minister confirmed the understanding was as you had stated it. It could be a difference in nuancement.

Kissinger : But where do you think this leads us?

I think it is better to know if you see no practical way to resolve the dilemma that neither side can go forward, or we should look for a formula.

It is inevitable that we will be in opposition. We have to be in opposition.

Ahmed : Even from a new administration, we will run up against the difficulty that it’s something we have already done. The Prime Minister is being asked to back down under pressure. He’s committed before his people. This should be taken into account by the President and Congress.

Kissinger : Certainly not by Congress. Congress is looking for somebody to push around. Phil?

Habib : They are about to begin a crusade upon the Hill.

Kissinger : If they hadn’t adjourned for the election, they would have passed very punitive legislation.

Ahmed : Retroactive.

Kissinger : Retroactive. It would hit France; it would hit Pakistan. I am against this legislation because to penalize our allies… I think the problem should be settled through negotiations.

Ahmed : I hope you understand our situation.

Kissinger : I understand.

Ahmed : We are committed politically and contractually.

Kissinger : We will oppose it. How we oppose it, I don’t know. It will depend on what we can negotiate before Congress returns. Unless we can negotiate, the more the Congress will pass. If you look at the human rights field.

[Page 8]

I personally think the more punitive we are, the more we spread proliferation. Because we will make life difficult for France and Germany for a few years, and then they will build their own enrichment facilities, and it will be less manageable.

Our election seems interminable but it is less than four weeks away. If you can avoid doing something irrevocable.

Ahmed : We will.

Kissinger : How do you see the Chinese mood? How do you see the speech yesterday [by Chiao Kuan-hua]?

Ahmed : There is an opinion among China-watchers that there is some division in the Chinese camp and some move to move closer to the Soviet Union. We don’t see that—from our talks, from public statements. If there were some divisions, they couldn’t continue this uncompromising stand.

Kissinger : Unless that uncompromising stand is the only thing they can agree on.

Ahmed : Yes, but in that case it means the Party is behind it.

Kissinger : They might make the loudest noises just before before they did it. But we have no evidence of it.

They have misread the American political scene. They have spent a year playing up to people opposed to us. You know it’s had no impact whatsoever except to infuriate the Administration.

We at least think geopolitically. It’s not necessarily the case [in U S. politics].

The speech yesterday. If we make agreements with the Soviet Union, we are appeasers. If we resist the Soviet Union, it’s superpower competition against which the whole world should unite.

They have this idea we are trying to push the Soviet Union to the east.

[Page 9]

Ahmed : Not push.

Kissinger : If the Soviet Union attacks China, I personally think it would be a colossal strategic problem for the United States. It would be as serious as a Soviet attack on Europe. But it is technically harder for us to defend China because there is no treaty. I see if they attack Europe, they will face a massive American reaction; therefore it may be they are more likely to attack China. But if they do, Europe will collapse anyway. If they attack China and succeed, Europe will become like Finland.

So the idea that we are encouraging the Soviet Union to attack China is absurd.

I would move heaven and earth to defend China if the Soviet Union attacked. But I as a friend won’t be able to mobilize support for it if they are constantly in a posture of hostility toward us.

You know how much I value the relationship. And my already strong friendship for Pakistan has a permanent base because of the role you played.

What strategy are they pursuing? What do they gain? I wanted to establish visible ties so we would have a basis for defending China.

You think geopolitically. You know if the Soviet Union attacked China, Japan would become a series of islands off the coast; India would be liberated [to act aggressively].

It has been the fixed principle of the United States to defend a unitary China—even before the Communists. This is based on geopolitical reality.

Ahmed : You will tell this to Ch’iao Kuan-hua.

Kissinger : Of course. But you can speak [to them] as friends.

They can’t just take a free ride. They can’t just take from it and put nothing into it. If this continues, unilateralism will take hold. And this is precisely the situation which the Soviet Union could take advantage of.

[Page 10]

Ahmed : In the last year, they have been better. Ch’iao Kuan-hua made precisely your case to me. He said: “They haven’t done it all but we understand their difficulties.”

Kissinger : They are bringing about just the opposite of what they want. Every journalist there gets a lecture on appeasement.

Those in the United States who talk tough on strategic arms are the weakest geopolitically. The world will be lost by attacks in Angola and everywhere, not by the Soviet Union waking up one morning and attacking America.

Ahmed : Exactly.

Kissinger : So we have to do certain things to enable us to operate geopolitically.

I will say the same thing to Ch’iao. But we wouldn’t object if you do it. You know, if we say something to China they don’t like, it offends their pride.

Excessive sentimentality is not my problem, but there are some countries for whom I have a personal affection. China is one of them. I happen to think they handled the opening of our relationship with consummate skill and delicacy. The problem may be the inexperience of the top leadership.

Ahmed : Their speech on Taiwan was new. “Taiwan shall be liberated.”

Habib : That’s the standard line.

Kissinger : That I don’t object to. I don’t expect the Chinese to show restraint on what they consider their own territory.

Ahmed : They used to always say they can wait, they are in no hurry.

Kissinger : It’s always a pleasure to see you and I look forward to see you after the election.

Give my warmest regards to your Prime Minister.

Ahmed : I will. It looks like the A–7 has become a peripheral issue.

[Page 11]

Kissinger : I am not using the A–7 to blackmail you. You know I have been pushing it over reluctant bureaucracy. But I don’t think we can get it through Congress unless some restraint is shown.

We will handle it sympathetically. It depends now on the election.

Ahmed : I understand.

Kissinger : Other military items I understand are proceeding smoothly.

Ahmed : Yes, they are. Thank you.

Kissinger: Don’t thank me.

If we are asked about the reprocessing, we will say we are continuing to discuss it in the spirit of our discussions in Lahore.

[The meeting ended at 11:38 a.m.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Nodis. It was drafted by Rodman. The meeting took place is the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Towers while Kissinger was attending the UN General Assembly.
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger met with Pakistan Foreign and Defense Minister Ahmed to discuss the issues of arms supply, nuclear reprocessing, and other issues.