79. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

25153. Subj: (C) Démarche to Soviets on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ref: (A) State 285130.2

1. (S—Entire text.)

2. I made the démarche on Pakistan and Afghanistan, using the talking points in para 3 of reftel, when I called on First Deputy Foreign Minister Korniyenko this morning (November 2).

3. In responding, Korniyenko first said that the Soviets favored normal and improving relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and had in fact said so to the leaders of both countries. For their [Page 223] part, the leadership of Afghanistan, as is known, had also expressed readiness to improve relations with Pakistan and had taken concrete steps in that direction; he had in mind the visit to Pakistan by Deputy Foreign Minister Dost and the invitation for the President of Pakistan to visit Afghanistan. From the other side, however, although the Pakistani leadership had earlier expressed interest in a high level meeting, it subsequently was avoiding such a meeting.

4. Korniyenko did not directly address the question of charges of Pakistani interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, but spoke instead of the use of Pakistani territory for hostile actions against Afghanistan. That this was going on was not something invented by the media. It was openly admitted by leaders of the insurgents, who made public statements about their activities and made no secret of the fact that they were operating against Afghanistan from Pakistan territory.

5. As for the question of the “involvement” of the USSR in Afghanistan, Korniyenko continued, the Soviet Union had even earlier provided aid—and was now doing so on an even larger scale—to the Afghanistan people and state; all forms of aid were included—economic and scientific and technological, and other forms, including military. But all this assistance, regardless of type, was being given at the request of the Government of Afghanistan, and there were no political conditions attached. It did not constitute interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. The questions which the U.S. was raising about this aid, by referring to the presence of Soviet specialists and advisers as though this raised concerns on the part of the U.S., were not legitimate questions. In essence, this amounted to interference in the relations between two sovereign states, since Soviet aid was given at the request of the legitimate Afghan Government.

6. Picking up the reference to the nuclear issue, Korniyenko said he could confirm what had been previously said by the Soviet side, that Pakistan activity toward the development of a nuclear device was also of concern to the Soviet Union. The Soviets had put questions to the Pakistani leadership on this score, and they would be prepared to continue to cooperate with the U.S. in this matter, on the basis of our mutual interest in preventing proliferation.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office Files of Marshall D. Shulman, Special Advisor to the Secretary on Soviet Affairs, 1977–1981, Lot 81D109, Watson-Korniyenko, 11/2/79. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Sent for information to Leningrad, Bonn, London, Paris, Islamabad, Kabul, and New Delhi.
  2. Telegram 285130 to Moscow, November 1, summarized discussions between Vance and Shahi October 16–17. Vance pledged: “in the event of aggression from Afghanistan against Pakistan the United States would consider the 1959 bilateral agreement to be relevant.” Shahi in turn requested that the United States “assert to the Soviet Union our interest in Pakistan’s security and our concern that the USSR not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.” The telegram further reported that Shahi suggested that the U.S. assertion refer to the 1959 agreement. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790503–0073 and D790500–0228)