36. Letter From President Carter to Bangladeshi President Zia1

Dear Mr. President:

Some weeks ago, I was pleased to send you my congratulations on your election as President of Bangladesh.2 I am aware that your election was part of a process by which your country, under your leadership, is endeavoring to establish effective representative government under the safeguards of a constitutional system. I understand that parliamentary elections are to be held before the end of the year,3 and I am both pleased and impressed by your courage and determination.

I had hoped we might have an opportunity to meet and talk if you came to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly. However, I fear that this will not be possible. I hope you will understand that I must give close attention to domestic affairs in the next few months, in particular, to the Congressional elections in November. For this reason, I will have to limit very severely my meetings with foreign leaders who may be visiting the United States during the General Assembly session. I do hope we will be able to meet at some future date.

Ambassador Schneider has kept me informed of your efforts to bring representative government to Bangladesh. He has also described your efforts to improve economic and social conditions in your country. I am impressed by your decision to give priority to agriculture, family planning, and rural development. Your success in these crucial areas could well set an example for other countries. I am pleased that our governments have been able to conclude new agreements that support important programs launched under your leadership.

I appreciate the points which you laid out in your letter of June 26 about Bangladesh’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations [Page 105] Security Council.4 As you know, the United States customarily defers taking any position on elections to United Nations bodies until the preferences of the respective regional groups are known.5 We will, of course, take full account of the considerations you mentioned in your letter.

I am very pleased with the way relations are developing between our two countries. I appreciate the opportunity to exchange correspondences with leaders of important and friendly countries such as yours from time to time.

With best personal regards,


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 2, Bangladesh: President Ziaur Rahman, 4/77–12/80. No classification marking.
  2. Telegram 144463 to Dacca, June 7, directed the Embassy to convey the following message to Zia: “My heartiest congratulations on your victory in the June 3 Presidential election. I look forward to continuing to work with you toward peace and prosperity for our peoples. Sincerely yours, Jimmy Carter.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780238–0618)
  3. Telegram 5367 from Dacca, August 31, reported that the date of Parliamentary elections was not set; however, the Bangladeshi Elections Secretary indicated to the Embassy that he believed they would be held no later than December 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780356–1137)
  4. See Document 35.
  5. In an August 16 memorandum to Brzezinski, Tarnoff wrote: “Bangladesh is competing with Japan for endorsement by the UN Asian Regional Group. We believe the Asian Group may refrain from making an endorsement, which will require that the voting be by secret ballot in the General Assembly. You should be aware that, although this is not known to other governments than the Japanese, we are committed to support Japan, which we consider the more worthy candidate.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780140–0128)