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Sultan Mohammed Khan, Foreign Secretary, Pakistan, on:
Nixons meeting with Pakistan president, Yahya Khan
Q: Could we begin with the invitation to China and Nixon's meeting with President Yahya Khan. You were present at the meeting. Can you describe what happened?|
Mohammed Khan: Nixon had come to Pakistan many times when he was vice president, when he was out of power. Then he came on a brief, informal visit in 1969 to Lahore to meet Yahya Khan. I think the idea was to get to know the new head of state in Pakistan, whom he had not known before. It was just a day and night's visit, and in the evening, in a way, it was a relaxed atmosphere. He mentioned to Yahya Khan that I am thinking of re-establishing contact with China. It's been almost two decades that we broke relations with them and there has been no official contact and, when the time is right, I'd like to get in touch with you to help us and act as an intermediary in the establishment of relationship. Yahya said he would be happy to do so and would wait to hear from Nixon on this subject. But nothing more was said until October of 1971 when the Yahya Khan had come to take part in the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations founding.
He and several other governments were invited by President Nixon for a dinner at the White House. Nothing was said at dinner because they felt too many people [were] present there, but the next day Yahya Khan and Nixon had a meeting at which the only other person present was Dr Kissinger, our ambassador in Washington, myself, and other members of [the] president's party. We waited in the ante-room and were looked after by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Cisco. We didn't discuss anything of substance or consequences and after about an hour's stay at the White House President Yahya Khan was seen off by Nixon, and we never knew what had been talked about. We then proceeded back to Islamabad.
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