38. Telegram 220125 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Bangladesh 1 2

[Page 1]

Summary: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s visit has served to confirm Bangladesh/U.S. good relations but Bengalees did not fully utilize it for its public relations value. Mujib appears to have left the U.S. satisfied with his reception and treatment. End summary.

Mujib’s objectives. Mujib’s address to the UNGA, his meetings with President Ford, Secretary Kissinger, Senators and Congressmen, and the VAP treatment accorded him all served to demonstrate that the U.S. recognizes Bangladesh as one of the powers of the subcontinent, with whom we enjoy good relations. In addition, President Ford’s assurances of concern for Bangladesh’s economic problems and the promise of PL–480 foodgrains constituted tangible evidence of continued U.S. economic assistance. From Mujib’s point of view, this visit has apparently fulfilled its purpose.
Our objectives. From our point of view also the trip went well. The meetings with President Ford and Secretary Kissinger were conducted in a cordial atmosphere at some length and covered the ground of our bilateral relations (which we both agreed are excellent), the general process of reconciliation in the subcontinent over the last two years, and Bangladesh’s economic situation.
An opportunity lost. At the same time, little press and public attention was generated by Mujib’s visit, reflecting the reality of short memories and Bangladesh’s low news priority. In part, however, the Bengalee side failed to make the most of its opportunities. Mujib and his party failed to dramatize publicly the intensity of Bangladesh’s current difficulties. They were selective [Page 2] in their treatment of the press: Mujib gave an interview to representatives of the Washington Post, but not to others. Mujib did not meet the press corps after his meeting with Ford, but left it to Kamal Hossain. The New York Times, Newsweek and Time all hosted social events for the Prime Minister in New York, but little has appeared in the press beyond two-liners and a photo of Mujib embracing the Pakistani Ambassador, Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, which provided the single dramatic moment of a Bengalee-hosted Washington reception.
Speeches. Mujib’s main public themes were Bangladesh’s difficult economic situation, as a result of natural disasters and neglect in Pakistan Times, and the need for Pakistan to match Bangladesh’s generosity in reaching accommodation on the issues remaining between the two countries. His UN speech referred to Bangladesh’s “ultimate contribution” in granting clemency to the 195 POW’s, against whom there was “overwhelming evidence of having committed crimes against humanity.” These were the themes of his private presentations also.
Schedule. The Bengalees arranged a full schedule for Mujib in New York. In addition to lunches, dinners and his speech to the UNGA, he appeared on a Sunday television program, addressed the Asia Society at a luncheon, and met David Rockefeller (among others) whom he invited to Bangladesh as a guest of the BDG. In Washington, Mujib met privately with Robert McNamara and Senators Kennedy and McGovern, talked with representatives of AID and the IBRD over luncheon, and was hosted at coffee by a joint meeting of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees. While the Bengalees were pleased with Blair House and the USAF aircraft, they turned down our offer to have a luncheon hosted by Attorney General Saxbe (the Secretary was in New York, and the suggestion had been made on the basis of Bengalee initial interest in an event hosted by a Cabinet member). Their reception, which was poorly attended, constituted the only large social event for Mujib in Washington.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Islamabad Embassy Files: Lot 77 F 114, Decentralized Subject Files, 1973–74, Pakistan/Bangladesh. Confidential. It was repeated to Islamabad, London, and New Delhi.
  2. The Department commented on the visit of Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman and the likely consequences for Bangladesh.