34. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Regional Staff Meeting1 2

In Attendance:

  • Secretary of State Kissinger
  • D Mr. Rush
    T Mr. Donaldson
    M Mr. Brown
    C Mr. Sonnenfeldt
    AF Mr. Easum
    ARA Mr. Kubisch
    EA Mr. Hummel
    EUR Mr. Hartman
    NEA Mr. Sisco
    IO Mr. Buffum
    S/PRS Mr. Vest
    S/S Mr. Bremer
    S/AM Mr. McCloskey
    L Mr. Maw
    INR Mr. Hyland
    S/PC Mr. Hyland
    S/S Mr. Springsteen
[Page 2]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Bangladesh]

SECRETARY KISSINGER: O.K., Joe. I know it’s 4 o’clock. Two minutes.

MR. SISCO: Pakistan has informed us that it has informed Bangladesh of its willingness to extend recognition prior to the opening of the Islamic conference on the 22nd of February, provided they can get the kind of iron-clad commitment from Bangladesh that in fact these 195 won’t go on trial and so on.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Have we done something?

MR. SISCO: They have asked us to intervene on it.


Mr. SISCO: No. We sent you a memo yesterday, which would ask that you send a personal message from you to each of the Foreign Ministers—which kind of gives them a polite pat on the back without intervening substantively. We think you can derive some benefit and each of the Ministers can, but to the Pakistan side—not [Page 3] Foreign Minister. There’s going to be a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of these four countries.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India—three.

MR. SISCO: Did I say four? I didn’t realize I said four. There are only three that are involved. But, in any event, I would like to have you look at the message we sent you yesterday. We think this is the sort of thing you could say without getting into the middle of the substantiation.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Well, why can’t we do just what we’ve been asked to do and inform Bangladesh to say, “We’ve been asked by Pakistan to transmit this to you”? We did it. That’s how we broke the deadlock last August.

MR. SISCO: Well, largely because of the fact that we think it’s going to move in this direction, based on a possible Foreign Ministers meeting. And, secondly, if that’s the first step, I think you know we may get involved further; and I don’t think it’s necessary at this particular juncture. I think we can get the kind of credit of giving everybody a gentle pat on the back without getting anybody into an intimate negotiation on this thing.

[Page 4]

That would be my judgment.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: But, if we do, if Pakistan has asked us to pass this note to you or its idea to you for your consideration, you for your consideration, do we get into a negotiation?

MR. SISCO: It’s the beginning of a process. I have no objection to doing that, and that could very easily be added as a sentence to what we sent you. I think myself that they’ve gotten the pitch and they each know what the position is. And, in this particular instance, if we start that particular process, then the other side may very well come at the next stage and say, “Will you weigh in as follows on the following procedure?”

SECRETARY KISSINGER: No. I agree that we shouldn’t weigh in. We should just transmit it.

MR. LORD: For what it’s worth, the Indian Minister told me they would welcome a pat on the back.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: What’s a “pat on the back”? I don’t understand what it means?

MR. SISCO: A general encouragement that they sort this out.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Without telling them the specific idea.

MR. SISCO: That’s right. That’s what I’ve [Page 5] recommended to you in this piece of paper in your office.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: That seems to me more intrusive than to pass somebody’s message. That gets us into a negotiation to which we haven’t been asked.

MR SISCO: No I don’t think so, Mr. Secretary. I think it’s more intrusive the other way.


[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Bangladesh]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–77, Entry 5177, Box 2, Secretary’s Analytical Staff Meetings. Secret; Nodis. In telegram 32493, February 17, the Department transmitted the text of a “pat on the back message.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Sober congratulated the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Governments on February 22 for settling the recognition issue. (Ibid.)
  2. In the regional staff meeting, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Sisco and Secretary of State Kissinger discussed a specific message to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India commending the recent agreement to reopen the questions of prisoners of war and recognition of Bangladesh. The participants also discussed how to facilitate communication between the interested states.