27. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • Mohammad Daoud, Head of State and Prime Minister of Afghanistan
  • Waheed Abdullah, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Abdul Samad Ghaus, Director General for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Amb. Theodore L. Eliot, Jr. Ambassador to Afaghanistan
  • Alfred L. Atherton, Assistant Secretary of State for Afghanistan Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

[Photographs were taken, and the photographers left]

Daoud: I am extremely happy to see you again and I welcome the opportunity we have to have some talks.

Kissinger: I am extremely grateful, Mr. President, and I recall our last talks with much pleasure. And we were happy to receive Mr. Naim in Washington.

Daoud: I thank you, sir, and I wish to thank you also for the warm welcome extended to Mr. Mohammad Naim in Washington and by all the people in the United States.

[Page 2]

Kissinger: We attach great importance to our relationship with Afghanistan and your independence and territorial integrity.

Daoud: Thank you, sir. Knowing your stay is a very short one with us, I will confine myself to just necessary remarks. I will just mention the situation. I am sure Mr. Mohammad Naim in meeting with you in Washington had an opportunity to explain our relations with the countries of the region and our policies internally and externally.

I had an opportunity on your previous visit to Kabul to explain the purpose of the revolution in Afghanistan, why it came into being. I also had the opportunity to explain our nonaligned policy and our relationship in the region. So I need not go into this at great length again, since I had the opportunity to explain it to you.

Since our previous meeting, no big changes have occurred, but there were some few significant changes in the region that have in fact occurred, and I would like to explain them briefly. One of these important developments is the changes that have occurred in our relations with Pakistan and in relations between India and Pakistan.

With respect to our relations, I am sure your Excellency will remember that during that time natural calamities struck Afghanistan—floods, earthquakes. The Pakistanis, because of these calamities, made very humanitarian gestures toward us and extended assistance to us. This offer of assistance to us in those days was of course quite natural and these were human gestures, but what happened next was very important to us and was a substantial move. Pakistan stopped all hostile propaganda and gestures to us. We interpreted this gesture as a gesture of good-will, and accordingly we availed ourselves to the opportunity to move ahead and therefore we invited Prime Minister Bhutto to visit Afghanistan and he very kindly accepted.

I can tell you as a friend of Afghanistan and also as a friend of Pakistan that our meetings took place in a very friendly atmosphere. We obtained the views of each other and succeeded in breaking the ice. We believe if these discussions and these contacts continue, we will be able to solve these political differences with respect to Pushtoonistan, and relations will continue to improve.

[Page 3]

Kissinger: How will you solve the problem?

Daoud: We will solve this question honorably and realistically. We are hopeful the Pakistanis will agree to extend the same rights to the Pushtoon and Baluchi people that they extend to their other peoples, rights already enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan. This of course is conditioned to acceptance by the Pushtoon and Baluchi people. We are most hopeful that if the Government of Pakistan adopts a friendly attitude towards them, this will be solved to the satisfaction of the Pushtoon and Baluchi people. It is premature for me to say the end results of our discussion and contacts, but I am hopeful that if this atmosphere continues, we can solve it honorably.

Kissinger: I understand the President is visiting Pakistan after the nonaligned conference.

Daoud: Yes, we have decided so. On my return from the Colombo Conference, I shall stop over for three or four days, maybe, in Pakistan. We will continue the talks we started in Kabul and we will see where this will lead us in Pakistan.

We have said this to the Pakistanis not as a condition but as a friendly suggestion—and we will say this to you as a friend of Pakistan—that if a favorable gesture is made by the Government of Pakistan to the Pushtoon and Baluchi people, this will create a much better atmosphere.

Kissinger: What is a “friendly gesture?”

Daoud: I want first of all to explain to you that it is very difficult for me to go to Pakistan. Because the NAP people are presently in prison and the government has accused Afghanistan of conniving with these people to break up Pakistan. So Afghanistan stands accused. So it is difficult for me to go while the NAP people, who in our view are freedom fighters, are in prison.

Abdullah: Fighting for their own rights.

Kissinger: But you don’t expect to find a solution on your next visit, do you?

[Page 4]

Daoud: As you know, this problem between us and Pakistan is extremely complicated and I think you cannot solve it at one or two meetings. Of course, if it was solved in one or two meetings, it would give us a great satisfaction. This will depend on the understanding of both sides. In any case, we are going there, and we are hopeful that if the problem is not solved, we will have at least taken a step forward.

Kissinger: We welcome the improvement of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and we hope you will come to a satisfactory solution, because tension will only hurt the security of both sides.

Daoud: I thank you, sir. I confirm, and support what you just said, about the security of both countries.

The other point I want to touch upon is relations between Afghanistan and your country. We know the United States is a big power possessing world-wide means of information, and on the basis of relations between us, we would be happy if your could inform us of events and developments in this region which would have an adverse effect on the security of the countries in this region.

Kissinger: On a regular basis, or at this meeting?

Daoud: No, we want you, if at all possible, to furnish us on a friendly basis with information whenever it comes to you and if it suits you to do so.

Kissinger: Mr. Naim mentioned this in Washington, and we in principle are prepared to do so. We would be interested if the President could tell us with a little more precision what he is interested in.

Daoud: As Your Excellency is well aware, Afghanistan has a very peculiar geographical situation, and during history, because of this geographical situation, it has been faced with difficulties of one kind or another.

Kissinger: From what I know of Afghan history, you always gave a lot of difficulties to whoever came in here. [Laughter]

[Page 5]

Daoud: In fact they created difficulties for us! Others came to our house, not we to theirs! [Laughter]

Kissinger: But you didn’t make things too comfortable for them. [Laughter]

Daoud: I want to add that in this region of ours, there are a variety of interests and ideologies in conflict with each other, and when they come in contact there are always difficulties. Therefore, I think the means in your possession are much bigger and more perfect than what small countries possess.

Kissinger: Since it is better to discuss this while I am here, rather than through cables, what particular dangers are you most concernedabout—foreign invasion or intervention?

Daoud: I don’t believe aggression from abroad is something that will materialize. We don’t have any fear about that. But subversion internally is something that concerns us. We have good relations with our neighbors and presently we don’t fear any aggression from them. But in our policies, domestic and in general, we follow a line that is characteristic of our way of life and special to us. It is an Afghan line, in keeping with our people and our traditions. Therefore this kind of attitude—an independent attitude and independent line—may not be to the likingof the Left or to the liking of the Right. Therefore we are prone to any kind of influence, our people, and during the past ten years the situation was such that our country was open to all kinds of influence and all kinds of ideas. Therefore we would be very happy and would appreciate it very much if our American friends, with the worldwide means they have at their disposal, if they feel or see a threat to our security, could inform us as soon as possible.

Kissinger: In principle we are prepared to do it, and it concerns both internal and external security, if I understand the President.

Daoud: Yes, external and internal.

Kissinger: And to whom should we give this information?

[Page 6]

Daoud: Of course, we would not like you to give us this information in the form of a note or letter, but to an individual whom we are to choose and introduce you to and an individual whom you will designate.

Kissinger: We would prefer that too. Anything on paper in Washington ends up in the Washington Post. [Laughter]

You will designate someone and point him out to the Ambassador. [Eliot confers with the Secretary.] In our Embassy, only one person besides the Ambassador will know about this, so you will go to no one else except whom the Ambassador will designate.

Daoud: Yes, thank you.

Kissinger: You will let the Ambassador know.

Daoud: Yes, sir.

Kissinger: So we will give you what we know about possible military positions on your borders and what we know about any possible internal threats to your security.

Daoud: I thank you, sir.

With respect to our foreign policies, you are aware of them, of course, but I want to say we are prepared to adhere strictly to our policy of non-alignment. We ask our friends the kind of help I have just mentioned to you in accordance with our nonalignment policy and bearing in mind the importance of this policy to us.

Kissinger: We have no interests in disturbing this policy.

Daoud: With respect to the assistance we seek from the United States, I would like to mention, as was mentioned I’m sure by our envoy [Mr. Naim], that it cannot be described as effective assistance such that people of Afghanistan will notice its size and importance. Some are projects that were begun by the United States, and we would want to see the completion of these peace projects.

Kissinger: What does your Executive have in mind specifically?

[Page 7]

Daoud: Today our Minister of Planning will explain in detail how we view assistance from the United States. But I will mention, for example, the central Helmand Valley, the Kajakai drainage system that goes with it, electric generators. All this has been started by the United States and we want this to be effectively achieved by you. The electric power extension of Kandahar, Lashkargah, Girishk, and the extension of the line between Kandahar and Kabul.

In the field of education, we have a faculty of engineering in mind and would like to see the expansion of it, and an increase in the number of experts. This has been already started by the US and we would like it strengthened.

Kissinger: As a former professor, I can say a country that increases its number of professors increases the number of its troubles. [Laughter]

Daoud: At the same time, strengthening of the faculty of agriculture. We also are in dire need of management, and if the United States could assist us in setting up a managerial institution, this also would be very much appreciated.

Also for rural development, we wish your assistance. And if an institution could be created for rural development.

In the field of agriculture, we would also like fertilizer, phosphates-diamonds and phosphate. If the United States could furnish around 150,000 tons of this, we would appreciate it very much.

In the field of health, if at all possible for you to assist us in building a big hospital of 450–500 beds.

And also living quarters for our faculty for girls. A dormitory for girls in the University of Kabul.

Kissinger: Our Ambassador just said that our Senate would like us to do something for girls. They’d probably come out to inspect it. [Laughter]

I wonder if the President noticed that not one Republican has been involved in a scandal with girls. I’m getting worried.[Laughter] We need at least one sex scandal. [Laughter]

[Page 8]

Mr. President, we’ll have an opportunity this afternoon to talk in more detail about this. Some of the things we can do. Rural development, management institute, the power dam—the Helmand Dam—there is one specific thing we can do. The Kandahar power extension.

Eliot: The Kandahar Distribution System.

Daoud: These were our proposals. It is up to you to see what you can do.

Kissinger: I took the point that you were interested in some visible American presence.

Daoud: Yes, this is a fact. We want a friendly presence of the United States, a visible presence. Taking into account our geographic position.

Kissinger: We have no interest in complicating your situation; our interest is to ease it. We have no interest in producing provocations.

Daoud: I thank you, sir.

May I ask you, if I may, about your relations with India?

Kissinger: Our relations with India are friendly and aloof. It’s a fortunate thing the Indians are pacifists; otherwise their neighbors would be worried [Laughter] But we… The first time we were in India, they told me that Kabul belonged to India too. [Laughter] I think it’s correct to say Mrs. Gandhi does not have a personality that appeals at first blush to Americans. Maybe not even at second blush. [Laughter] There have even been cases of people who have resisted her a third time. [Laughter]

But we have no particular national quarrel with India. We feel that whenever they get into domestic difficulties, they start kicking us around, that is great fun—until we react to it. So we have no particular outstanding quarrel. But you could also not speak of an intimate friendship. And we would not be amused if India started to bring pressure—military pressure—on its neighbors. On the other hand, we are encouraging both India and Pakistan to settle their difficulties peacefully. I think some progress has been made.

Daoud: As Your Excellency is aware, in a few days we’ll have a [non-aligned] conference in Colombo.

[Page 9]

Kissinger: Yes.

Daoud: There we will witness quite a few differences between countries regarding the agenda and also important differences between countries. I don’t know what is the outcome.

Kissinger: It is not clear to me by what definition Cuba is a nonaligned country. Otherwise we’d be tempted to ask for at least observer status ourselves. (Laughter)

The President belongs to the biggest group that exists. It is we aligned who have no friends anymore. [Laughter]

We have three problems that are of particular interest to the United States.

First is Puerto Rico. This is to us an internal affair which is not subject to international debate. And we would have… we would be bound to consider it unfriendly if at the General Assembly something happened with respect to Puerto Rico.

We have had two referendums in Puerto Rico in which they chose their present status. I have to tell you if the General Assembly votes anything on Puerto Rico, we will participate in no further meeting of the General Assembly at that meeting, on any subject. I say this only to indicate this is a matter of principle

The second issue is Korea. We are not asking friendly countries so much to vote for our ideas; we think the best solution is to not have any debate on the subject this year. If there is a debate, we would hope there is an even-handed outcome.

The third is the issue of the Middle East. We hope the United Nations and the Nonaligned Conference won’t do anything to complicate the situation.

But you will be with a large group of nations in Sri Lanka, whose leaders are not exactly weak personalities. So it will be a merry session.

Abdullah: We can conclude our talks.

[Page 10]

[At 1:37 p.m. the group proceeded to lunch. No Notetaker was present. At 2:24, after lunch, the talks resumed.]

Daoud: Our relations with Iran were in the past quite good but today they are excellent.

Kissinger: The Shah also spoke well of your relations.

For two years everyone was afraid of President Daoud, and now everyone speaks of you as such a gentle person. Have you changed? [Laughter]

Daoud: Thank you, sir. I don’t know why they were afraid of me and why they’re no longer afraid.

Kissinger: Which judgment was correct?[Laughter]

Daoud: I don’t know!

Sometimes misunderstandings happen, and where they emanate from, I don’t know.

Kissinger: When I leave, our Ambassador will come around and apologize for everything I’ve said. I’m not a professional diplomat.

Daoud: Your remarks are most kind.

Kissinger: We don’t consider ourselves in competition with the Soviet Union here. We think that for you, nonalignment is the best policy.

What some of the President’s nonaligned friends don’t understand is it’s statistically impossible that the U.S. is always wrong. Once in awhile we are bound to do something right. And that’s when we would like the support of the nonaligned.

How are your relations with India, Mr. President?

Daoud: With India we have good friendly relations.

Kissinger: Like we. [Laughter]

[Page 11]

Daoud: Ours are a little bit better. [Laughter] I’m going to meet Mrs. Gandhi in Colombo. If you have any message to convey….

Kissinger: Give her my best regards. [Laughter] I wish we had a man as strong as she in our Cabinet. [Laughter]

But actually we have no quarrel with India now on any particular issue.

Abdullah: I’m sure Mr. Chavan will ask the President tomorrow what Mr. Kissinger said about relations with India. [Laughter]

Kissinger: We had an economic commission meeting with India last year.

Daoud: Most of your time is taken by your plane travels?

Kissinger: Well, I do a lot of traveling. That’s the only way I can keep my staff. Otherwise they’d all resign. Everyone thinks I’m going to write a biography when I leave my job. In 1981. But I’m going to use my knowledge to get people to pay me not to write a book. [Laughter] It’ll be about the bureaucracy of the State Department. My colleagues are of the conviction the only way I could get into the State Department was as Secretary of State; I don’t have the qualifications to be a Foreign service Officer. This affects their attitude towards me. The whole machinery of the Department is to prevent the Secretary from making any meaningful decisions. [Laughter]

Daoud: I am most pleased to have you here.

Kissinger: Thank you for making us welcome. We wish you and your country well.

[The conversation ended.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical File, CL 276, Memoranda of Conversation, May–Aug. 1976. Secret; Nodis. It was drafted by Peter Rodman (NSC) and approved in S on August 27. The meeting took place at the Presidential Palace. All brackets in the original.
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger met President Mohammad Daoud during his 1976 trip to South Asia and the Middle East. Their discussion included the improved relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daoud’s upcoming visit to Pakistan, the sharing of intelligence information, Afghanistan’s positions regarding issues of concern related to the Non-Aligned Movement, and economic development projects.