Foreign Relations, Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Documents on South Asia, 1969-1972
Released by the Office of the Historian

 

Department of State     TELEGRAM

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096807
O 271034Z DEC 72
FM AMEMBASSY DACCA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8341
INFO USIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL CALCUTTA IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE

DACCA 5547

FROM CHARGE

 

SUBJ: DESTRUCTION OF USIS CENTERS IN BANGLADESH

REF: STATE 232100

 

1. MY EARLY MORNING REQUEST FOR URGENT CALL ON FONMIN SAMAD WAS MET BY APPOINTMENT FOR 1330 THIS AFTERNOON. ALAM (NEW DG FOR EAST, PACIFIC AND AMERICANS) AND SOBHAN WERE ALSO PRESENT.

 

2. I TOLD FONMIN I HAD LEARNED OF RAJSHAHI EVENT ONLY BY READING MORNING NEWSPAPERS AND WONDERED WHY BDG HAD NOT SHARED POLICE REPORTS WITH EMBASSY. SAMAD AVERRED THAT HE TOO HAD LEARNED ONLY FROM PRESS AND SHAT HE HAD IMMEDIATELY ASKED HOME MINISTER FOR REPORT (WHICH IS STILL
PRESUMABLY NOT PREPARED).

 

3. I THEN EXPRESSED, ON INSTRUCTIONS, USG'S "SERIOUS CONCERN" OVER DEVELOPMENTS CITED PARA 2 REFTFL. FONMIN THEN ACKNOWLEDGED SERIOUSNESS OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS. HE LET ME KNOW BY VARIOUS CIRCUMLOCUTIONS THAT HE WAS HAVING TROUBLE GETTING PRIMIN MUJIB TO FOCUS ON PROBLEM AND/OR MAKE THE URGENT DECISIONS THAT SITUATION CALLS FOR. SAMD ALSO INDICATED THAT HE WAS NOW RECRUITING HOME MINISTER IN JOINT EFFORT TO PREVAIL ON MUJIB TO DO THE NECESSARY.

 

4. I INFORMED FONMIN THAT WE HAD NOW CLOSED ALL FOUR USIS CENTERS TO PUBLIC FOR "END-OF-YEAR INVENTORY". THIS TRANSPARENT EUPHEMISM WAS NOT MEANT TO SUGGEST THAT WE CONTEMPLATED REOPENING NEXT WEEK. RATHER, I TOLD SAMAD, WE WOULD LOOK To BDG ADVICE AS TO WHEN MOMENT ARRIVES FOR US PRUDENTLY TO REOPEN CENTERS. SAMAD NODDED ASSENT. WHEN I REPEATED THIS POINT AT END OF INTERVIEW, SAMAD INDICATED TO ALAM THAT HE WAS EXPECTED TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH EMBASSY IN THIS REGARD.

 

5. REMAINDER OF INTERVIEW WAS DEVOTED TO SAMAD'S ACCOUNT OF HIS ENCOUNTER WITH HOSTILE NAP (MUSAFFAR) STUDENT GROUP IN SYLHET YESTERDAY. SAMAD, IF HE WAS QUOTING HIMSELF ACCURATELY, DID A MASTERFUL JOB OF WRANGLING WITH STUDENTS, DEVELOPING ASTUTE RATIONALE FOR A NON-ALIGNED, SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT'S ACCEPTING AID FROM US. (IF ONLY HE COULD MAKE SUCH A SPEECH TO PUBLIC AT LARGE.). I CHOSE THE MOMENT TO REMIND SAMAD THAT USG IN PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO BD DID SO IN FULL RECOGNITION OF NECESSITY FOR BANGLADESH TO ADHERE TO TRULY NON-ALIGNED POSTURE AND OF ITS COMMITMENTS TO "NATIONALISM, SOCIALISM, SECULARISM, AND DEMOCRACY."

 

6. SAMAD THEN ALLUDED TO MY DECEMBER 26 CONVERSATION. WITH FONSEC KARIM ABOUT FY 73 AID GRANT AND INDICATED HE WAS FULLY CONSCIOUS OF IMPORTANCE OF FAVORABLE PUBLIC CLIMATE IN US AND WITH CONGRESS.

 

7. SAMAD DID NOT RAISE SUBJECT OF VIETNAM.

 

8. MY GENERAL IMPRESSION FROM INTERVIEW IS THAT SAMAD HAS GOOD INTELLECTUAL GRASP OF SITUATION, THAT HE IS EARNESTLY TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH HIS STATED OBJECTIVES. UP TO NOW HIS IS A LONELY STRUGGLE WITHIN THE BYZANTINE COUNCILS OF AWAMI LEAGUE. I OF COURSE DO NOT RULE OUT POSSIBILITY THAT LOGOTHETE SAMAD'S ACCOUNT OF HIS EFFORTS IS DISINGENUOUS.

 

9. ACTION REQUESTED: DEPARTMENT AND USIA ENDORSEMENT MY INTERPRETATION THAT REOPENING OF USIS CENTERS IN BANGLADESH DEPENDS ON DECISION OF BDG WHILE WE REMAIN READY TO DO SO AS SOON AS BDG ADVISES US STEP WILL BE PRUDENT, BDG THEREBY IMPLICITLY TELLING US IT IS EQUIPPED TO CARRY OUT ITS AVOWED RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT USG PERSONNEL AND PROPERTY.

DECONTROL DECEMBER 31, 1974.
NEWBERRY