Editorial Note


Henry Kissinger's conversations in New Delhi on July 7, 1971, included a significant exchange with Defense Minister Jagjivan Ram. At Kissinger's request, Ram assessed the Chinese military threat to India. Kissinger observed that China might intervene on behalf of Pakistan if there was a war between India and Pakistan. He assured Ram that the United States would take a grave view of any Chinese move against India. (Memorandum of conversation; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL INDIA-US) This memorandum is published in Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, volume E-7, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972, Document 139.


Kissinger's assurance to Defense Minister Ram contrasts with a warning he purportedly gave to Ambassador L.K. Jha on July 17. According to Kissinger's appointment book, he met with Jha at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, on July 17. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968-1976, Record of Schedule) An account of this meeting prepared by Jha, cited by Seymour Hersh, indicates that Jha and Kissinger met alone. Kissinger apparently did not prepare a record of the meeting. According to Jha's report of the meeting, as summarized by Hersh, Kissinger conveyed the warning that if war broke out between India and Pakistan and China became involved on Pakistan's side, "we would be unable to help you against China." (Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power, New York: Summit Books, 1983, page 452) Intelligence information subsequently obtained from India supports Jha's account. Kissinger, however, denied issuing such a warning when Harold Saunders raised the question on September 7. Kissinger and Jha ultimately reached agreement on the nature of the exchange in a conversation on September 11; see Documents 110, 143, and 146.




Source: Document 93, volume XI, South Asia crisis 1971, Department of State.