India, Russia discuss Bangladesh war

December 12, 1971

SOVIET DELEGATES DISCUSS BANGLADESH WITH INDIRA GANDHI

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Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily V Kuznetsov held talks on Bangladesh with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi today in New Delhi.

An Indian government spokesperson said the talks in New Delhi and Moscow – where an Indian representative, DP Dhar, arrived yesterday – would focus on the issue of Soviet recognition of Bangladesh.

Diplomatic sources, according to the New York Times, believed that the Russians would try to persuade Indira Gandhi to agree to the end of the fighting once the battle in Bangladesh was won and not to try to move forward in West Pakistan.

DP Dhar held preliminary low-level talks today with Soviet officials.

ON THE FRONT OF WAR

Mitro Bahini was advancing on Dhaka from three directions. “War has finally arrived in Dhaka,” reported a Voice of America correspondent from the ringed city of Dhaka as Mitro Bahini’s columns advanced 18 km from their main destination.

Senior Pakistani officers predicted Indian troops would reach Dhaka within 48 hours, The New York Times reported. Word of an imminent Indian attack came from nervous and dispirited officials at Government House. A general spoke melodramatically of throwing himself under a tank, but it is likely that no tank would be available. Senior Pakistanis expected to be taken prisoner by the Indians but feared the Bangalan guerrillas would reach them first, ”the newspaper added.

THE US CARRIER MAY TRAVEL TO BANGLADESH

The US Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise had left Vietnamese waters on December 10, 1971 for the Indian Ocean for a possible rescue of US citizens from Dhaka, The New York Times reported.

Navy commanders aboard the aircraft carrier said they had been ordered to sail to the Strait of Malacca off Singapore to await final instructions to sail up the Bay of Bengal. The mission of the US task force would be to evacuate Americans and other foreigners from Dhaka, they added.

The Enterprise, the largest aircraft carrier in the American fleet and the only nuclear-powered aircraft then in operation, carried around 100 fighter-bombers, bombers, fighters, reconnaissance planes, helicopters and small cargo planes. Its ammunition stores included nuclear bombs.

Three British C-130s flew from Dhaka to Kolkata today with around 480 British, American and German evacuees, according to officials at the United States consulate in Dhaka.

INDO-BANGLA AGREEMENT ON THE RETURN OF THE EVACUEE

The governments of India and Bangladesh have reached an agreement on the issue of the return from India of evacuees from Bangladesh and their reintegration. Thirty million people including about 10 million now in India would be rehabilitated in Bangladesh by the end of January 1972. The decisions were made when the Indian Minister of Aid and Rehabilitation had a series of meetings with government leaders from Bangladesh, including Syed Nazrul Islam and Tajuddin Ahmad today.

UNITED STATES CALLS ON UN TO ACT

The United States urged the Security Council tonight to call on India to immediately agree to a ceasefire and mutual withdrawal in the Indo-Pakistan war. But George Bush, the representative of the United States, withdrew his request for an immediate vote on an American draft resolution shortly after midnight after Soviet, Polish and French delegates said they needed time to obtain instructions from their governments. The emergency meeting, which had been called at the urgent request of the United States, was adjourned at 12:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. today.

Bush agreed to the adjournment after Somalia’s delegate Abdulrahim A Farah noted that Indian Foreign Minister Swaran Singh made a “qualified pledge” of withdrawal in his statement to the council.

Swaran Singh had said India would withdraw its forces if Pakistani troops were withdrawn from East Pakistan and Pakistan struck a peace deal with Bangladesh officials.

BHUTTO SWEARS THE FIGHT TO END

Pakistani Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto today told a crowd of enthusiastic Pakistanis: “We are not cowards, we will fight to the last man if necessary.” He was addressing a crowd of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the Pierre Hotel, where Bhutto had spoken with diplomats about the Indo-Pakistani war. The demonstration was in favor of the Pakistani government and against the Soviet Union and India.

Shamsuddoza Sajen is a journalist and researcher. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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