Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kissinger's 19 Aug 1975 Cable To U.S Envoys In Dhaka, Delhi, Islamabad

Within five days of the August 15, 1975 coup in Bangladesh, the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger opted for normalizing the situation in South Asia by sending telegram on the basis of the information given by Bangladesh Ambassador in USA Hossain Ali and the then Foreign Secretary Fakhruddin Ahmed. The telegram clearly indicated that after the coup the importance of the then Soviet Union was scuttled and the new government of Bangladesh also hinted reconciliation with Pakistan.

The telegram was declassified on August 7, 2009 by the State Department. The telegram was sent by Kissinger simultaneously to the US ambassadors in Islamabad, New Delhi and Dhaka. The telegram was dated August 19, 1975.

A summery in first para stated: Bangladesh Ambassador Hossain Ali called on Assistant Secretary Atherton Tuesday, August 19, at his initiative. Ambassador Ali presented reasons for coup, expressed his personal regret at death of Mujib, and reported new BDG's (Bangladesh Government) intention to carry on foreign relations along the principles of non-alignment, with a new emphasis on good relations with all the super powers. He discussed new BDG's hope for reconciliation with Pakistan and continued good relations with India. Atherton reiterated USG's (United States Government) intention to continue normal relations, including economic cooperation with BDG.

It further stated that Ambassador Ali's presentation followed same themes outlined by Fakhruddin Ahmed (Ref Tel). After description of inadequacies of Mujib's administration, he expressed his regret over necessity for killing Mujib, while repeating that he did not know the circumstances surrounding his death. Drawing on his close friendship with new president Khondakar Mushtaque Ahmed during 1971 in Calcutta, he described him as pious, honest and straightforward.

It says: "In discussing new BDG's foreign relations, Ali stated that he wished to inform us of Bangladesh intention to adhere to principles which have governed its foreign policy, particularly those of UN charter and five principles of peaceful coexistence while BDG will continue non-aligned policy, it will, however, place emphasis on good relations with all great powers. He did not elaborate, but you will understand what that means. (We understood this to refer to lessening of Soviet importance.)

"In speaking of (the) subcontinent, Ali stated that his government will continue to seek normalize relations among various countries of the area. Specifically, it hopes that some of problems with Pakistan can be solved.

Bangladesh, surrounded by India, will seek good relations with its neighbour. Bangladesh will of course continue to maintain its sovereignty and independence. "In reply, Mr Atherton spoke of the USG's regret at death of Mujib and the family, and stressed that USG intends to continue normal relations with Bangladesh.

We welcome new BDG's reiteration of its intention to continue the process of normalization in the subcontinent. Our embassy in Dacca has responded to the BDG's note, and our ambassador has been instructed to maintain normal contacts. Ambassador Ali about economic cooperation and MR Atherton informed him that economic cooperation will continue. Both agreed that a speedy conclusion of PL 480 negotiations would be desirable. The ambassador also noted interest of earlier Government in Title II program and expressed hope this would be feasible. Mr Atherton said we would look into this question. "Ambassadior Ali said that he has been asked to remain at his post until further instructions. He plans to attend the Commonwealth finance minister's meeting in Guyana on August 26-30 as head of Bangladesh delegation. -- Kissinger."