42. Telegram From the Embassy in Bangladesh to the Department of State1

7909. Subject: Temporary Reduction of the U.S. Presence: Preliminary Bangladeshi Reaction. Ref: State 305426.2

1. S–Entire text.

2. On afternoon of November 26 I informed Acting Foreign Secretary Ataul Karim of our intention to thin out American personnel in Bangladesh along lines of para 9 reftel.3 I took pains to point out that this was an action being taken in a number of countries and it reflected in no way on the adequacy of protection which has been provided by the BDG. That, I said, had been thorough and excellent and we greatly appreciated it. I also said that we would retain some personnel from most USG agencies and continue existing programs. The measure, I said, was entirely precautionary and was designed to assist the BDG in its protection task. I also told him we were giving similar advice to private Americans.

3. Although he received the information calmly, Karim was surprised and distressed. He asked if we had some concern about protection provided by the BDG and I replied that we did not; our action was precautionary. He asked if, in view of my response, I would recommend that the action in Bangladesh be rescinded. I replied that I could not do that but that I would report his proposal to the Department. He inquired from what other countries were Americans being thinned out, asking specifically if they included India and Southeast Asian countries. I replied there was some consideration of Calcutta and Bombay but that no Southeast Asian countries were included.

4. I believe Karim’s reaction is only a forerunner of more severe BDG disappointment about our action. They will see our inclusion of [Page 116] Bangladesh as a reflection of our judgement regarding the law and order situation here and the ability of the government to maintain control. However, I believe this reaction will pass; there is sufficient underpinning for our good relations for them to survive this episode.

5. I am briefing heads of voluntary agencies and U.S. businesses this evening and following up with a meeting with NATO Ambassador and, thereafter, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790544–0243. Secret; Niact Immediate; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 305426 to multiple posts, November 26, reported: “In the light of the situation in Tehran, the allegations of US and US-Israeli involvement in the seizure of the mosque in Mecca, fabricated stories of US-Israeli collusion to invade Iran, anti-US demonstrations in Islamabad, Calcutta, Dacca and Izmir, and continuing calls from Tehran for anti-American actions, we have decided that there should be a significant thinning out of staffs and a reduction in the number of dependents at certain posts during the period immediately ahead.” The instructions that followed included the Embassy in Dacca as a post “where a temporary reduction of the US presence will be carried out.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790543–1061)
  3. Paragraph 9 of telegram 305426 instructed Embassies to inform host governments about the reduction in staff and emphasize that it was a precautionary measure. (See footnote 2 above.)