Secret telegram

9 October 1971

From: Secretary State Washington DC

To: Amconsul Calcutta


Subject: Bangla Desh Contacts


1. Commend Calcutta's able and discreet handling of first contact with Bangla Desh "Foreign Minister" Mushtaq Ahmed. We also ap­preciate detailed report Congen has provided of Mushtaq's views. While much of substance of what Mushtaq had to say, particularly with reference to expectations of what US could or should do in pre­sent crisis, was fatuous or naive, we nevertheless believe it worth- - while to give him response, with intent of developing some momen­tum in moving BD reps toward talks.


2. You should, therefore, seek appointment with Mushtaq to report back views of USG. You should tell him that USG has no desire place itself between GOP and BD reps or to enter into merits of po­sitions of either side. USG therefore has no substantive comment to make on points raised by Mushtaq. We would urge, rather, that the BD reps seek earliest opportunity to present views directly to GOP reps, in effort explore possibility of negotiated settlement. We would hope that both sides could come to such meeting prepared to discuss whole range of issues that divide two sides, but without any precon­ditions. We have already discussed possibility of such meeting with President Yahya and he has indicated his interest. USG willing assist in passing messages back and forth that might lead to meeting, but we are not rpt not interested in playing transmission belt for "demands" or "positions" of one side or other.


3. To Mushtaq's probable reiteration of BD "desires" you should suggest to him that BD reps present these directly to GOP in talks and not to us. Only by engaging in talks can two sides hope to find ways toward early end of violence, killings, and other hardships that now afflict people of East Pakistan. Alternative that we see is escala­tion violence, and possibly war, with further tragic consequences for entire subcontinent. In our view those who refuse to participate in unconditional talks may have to assume responsibility for continued loss of life and for loss of "opportunity" to achieve constructive out­come.


4. We wish to keep our options open for contacts with other elements of BD leadership, although this will continue to be controlled from Washington. Hence while we assume that Mushtaq may remain prin­cipal channel for future communications, we do not wish to give him impression that he will necessarily be only channel. For example, we obviously might be in touch with BD delegation in New York which presumably sent to this country for purpose of contacting foreign of­ficials, including US. Therefore you should inform Mushtaq at your discretion that we intend to maintain some contact with other BD reps if occasion arises. We are confident this will not cause serious problems for BD, since we are not "negotiating" with any of reps and assume they will keep each other informed of contacts with USG reps.


5. For Islamabad: Believe you need not rpt not go any further than you already have (Islamabad 9962) in informing Yahya of state of play on BD contacts. Your next step with Yahya, if you believe it might be productive, should be to suggest that GOP simultaneously look for ways establish its own direct contact with BD reps in N.Y., London or elsewhere. Such contact could provide opportunity for w GOP signal to BD type of settlement it may be willing to negotiate. Such signals at this stage could help pave way for substantive nego­tiations. You might also probe with Yahya whether Soviets have played any role to date in seeking to advance GOP-BD negotiations.


6. Foregoing drafted prior receipt Calcutta 2605. However, believe latest meeting with Qaiyum does not rpt not indicate alteration these instructions.






Source: Bangladesh Liberation War and the Nixon White House 1971, p.247 - 249