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it would be a good thing. Sisco noted statement of Indian spokesman November 25 that troops have orders giving them right to cross borders in self defense. This was an added factor of concern and underscored need to disengage.

5. Rasgotra said he would pass on to New Delhi President's concern. He thought spokesman's announcement was nothing new and was consistent with earlier statement by Defense Minister that if India attacked it would reply. India had no intention of making major invasion.

6. Secretary said he wished to close by saying we do not see any hope of cooling situation unless both sides show willingness to disengage and get political process started. Sisco said we would particularly appreciate getting GOI's concrete reaction to our proposals on withdrawal, Rasgotra asked whether we had any indication of where and when Pakistan would withdraw. Sisco said no, but GOP was willing to take first step. India and Pakistan would have to work out details.

7. Sisco also noted that we had told Prime Minister of our ideas for political discussions between Bangla Desh representatives and GOP. Said we had looked at Prime Minister's most recent letter? but had found no answer to our proposals but only reiteration of position that Mujib should be released. Rasgotra said that in order to react on second point, GOI would have to get BD reaction. There had been no reaction to date.

8. Rasgotra said he did not know whether GOI could accept withdrawal proposal. Secretary noted that it not a question of accepting anything, merely of discussing with GOP of whether it possible or not. Sisco added that we would hope GOI would be willing to discuss whatever is possible by way of withdrawal. We could facilitate means of discussion but we have no blueprint or detailed solution. Secretary said that it would be difficult for American public to understand how India could say it did not want hostilities and yet would not disengage because it did not know terms of disengagement. Rasgotra noted that if India withdrew it would leave basic situation in East Pakistan unchanged. He asked whether there had been any change in Pak attitude towards use of military in East Pakistan. Sisco said there had been no change, but GOP claimed that as long as Mukti Bahini supported by Indian troops was active in East Pakistan it would not be possible to reduce military actions.



Document 189.

203. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National

Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon

Washington, November 26, 1971.


Information Items

India-Pakistan: Reports in the last twenty-four hours do not reflect an escalation of the fighting. The principal activity in that period has been diplomatic.

Indian Foreign Minister Singh in a rambling two-hour conversation with Ambassador Keating made these points:

-Even now, it is not too late for President Yahya to make a dramatic political gesture. The situation would be immediately defused by such a gesture. This should involve negotiations with East Pakistan's elected representatives and not going ahead with “his farce of elections." He thought Yahya could still free Mujib and start talks—if not overnight, perhaps in two or three weeks.

-If Pakistan withdrew its troops from the border then another situation would arise and India would certainly consider that situation. However, Yahya is only prepared to withdraw contingent on India's reciprocal withdrawal.

-Pakistani talks of an Indian offensive was to provide an alibi for Pakistani losses. Singh said "I would like to say categorically that Indian troops are not there" (in East Pakistan). The Indian Army had gone into action when its own positions were attacked.

President Yahya saw Ambassador Farland early this morning. Reports so far-still coming in-say that Yahya made these points:

-In response to a tentative suggestion by Farland, Yahya said with enthusiasm that he would advise his UN Ambassador immediately to institute a request for UN observers on the Pakistani side of the border.

-He has decided next week to tell his UN Ambassador to take up with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Prince Sadruddin) the idea of inviting a large UN group to take complete charge of refugees returning to East Pakistan. The UN would have control from establishing corridors to the border to resettlement in the villages.

-He would continue to exercise the greatest possible degree of military restraint.

1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 37, President's Daily Briefs, November 17–30, 1971. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. A stamp on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.

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A further report will be furnished if later telegrams reveal more.

Indian High Commissioner Atal has returned to Islamabad from high-level consultations in New Delhi "carrying an important message." Atal is an old friend of Yahya's. After a long conversation with Yahya a week ago, Atal was reportedly impressed with Yahya's plan to turn his government over to civilian leaders. Atal returned to New Delhi and, according to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reports from there, he planned to urge Mrs. Gandhi to give Yahya's political timetable a chance. We have had no reports yet on the outcome of those talks except for the fact that he is now back in Islamabad asking to see Foreign Secretary Sultan Khan immediately.

On other diplomatic fronts, the press reports that Soviet Ambassador Rodionon has delivered a note to Yahya, but we have no firm knowledge yet of its contents. Press reports also indicate that Chou Enlai reaffirmed the Chinese support for Pakistan stated to the Pakistani delegation two weeks ago, urged discussions to avoid war and accused India of intervention in Pakistan's affairs.

[Omitted here are summary reports on foreign policy issues unrelated to South Asia.]

204. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Pakistan

(Farland) to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)'

Islamabad, November 26, 1971, 0749Z.

(number not declassified] 1. Met with Yahya 0930 hours local this morning.? In conversation judiciously drew from info contained your wire of the 24th. Specifically assured Yahya that President is personally involved in all aspects of the problem.

2. Yahya is continuing to exercise maximum restraint, but expressed regretfully that there was limit thereto in event India renews

1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, 1971, Amb. Farland, Pakistan. Top Secret. Received at 10:40 a.m.

2 This conversation was also reported to the Department of State in telegram 11696 from Islamabad, November 26. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-PAK)

3 Document 201.


attacks. Immediately bought my suggestion that he ask for UN observers on Pak side of border even though none stationed on Indian side.

3. If tilt towards Pakistan becomes evident, and as further proof of GOI's military aggression becomes public, you might wish consider cut-off of military spare parts to India as evidence even-handed policy in subcontinent.

205. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in


Washington, November 27, 1971, 0058Z.

214924. For Ambassador. Subject: Presidential Message to Mrs. Gandhi.

1. In view of further deterioration in Indo-Pak situation you should at request of President seek earliest possible appointment with Prime Minister to present following letter.

2. "Dear Madame Prime Minister:

I have read with care your letter of November 182 in which you shared with me your most recent thoughts on the current situation in South Asia. I very much share your hope that our discussions and the continuing dialogue between us will indeed clear away misunderstandings and lead to the strengthening of the friendship between India and the United States. Your visit to Washington helped to clarify views about many of the problems affecting South Asia and about the steps which are required to achieve a viable political solution. Hostilities between India and Pakistan would negate the efforts which we hoped to make toward such a solution. I appreciate your assurance that you will make every effort to urge patience on your people.

Unfortunately in recent days the danger of war has increased. I am distressed at the recent deterioration of the situation and at the ominous trend of events. Military engagements along India's border with East Pakistan have increased in number and strength. Tanks, aircraft


Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL INDIA-US. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Quainton and Sisco on November 25, cleared by Van Hollen and Kissinger, and approved by Irwin. Repeated to Islamabad, Dacca, Moscow, and USUN.

2 Document 189.

and regular forces have been involved on both sides. In this connection, I note your Government has confirmed that your armed forces have been engaged on Pakistani territory. The situation has reached a critical stage and there is danger of all-out hostilities. As I indicated to you during our visit, the American people would not understand if Indian actions led to broad-scale hostilities. Hostilities would inevitably affect our ability to be helpful in many other ways.

In our conversations, I mentioned to you that President Yahya would be willing to take the first step in disengaging his forces on the frontier with West Pakistan provided India were willing to take reciprocal action subsequently. I have not heard from you on the point, and I hope you would agree promptly to designate a representative who could discuss a limited disengagement with a representative named by President Yahya. On the frontier of East Pakistan he has agreed to permit the stationing of UN observers even if India does not reciprocate. Such steps would be in the interests of both India and Pakistan and of peace in the world. It is only in a defused situation that progress can be made in the direction of a political settlement for which we continue to work.

In view of the seriousness of the situation, I have also written to President Yahya and Premier Kosygin.

Richard Nixon"

3. In making presentation Ambassador should stress the President's deep personal concern at the developments of recent days, reiterate the degree to which an Indian decision to have recourse to war would not be understood in the United States, and complications for US-Indian relations.


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