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Sultan Mohammed Khan, Foreign Secretary, Pakistan, on:
Yahya Khan’s visit to Beijing

Sultan Mohammed Khan Quite independently of the approach made by Nixon for re-establishing contact with China, the Yahya Khan had been invited to visit Beijing in November. He was received enthusiastically, greeted by Chou En-lai who was attended by the entire senior communist party leadership. There were great crowds singing, waving flags, dancing, in fact, I can say, having seen many state visits to Beijing, that it was one of the most colorful, one of the most festive and enthusiastic welcomes extended to any head of state. ...

We finally arrived at the old French Embassy which was being used as a guest house. It was a nice, comfortable, colonial-type of building from the old days and it was there in one of the rooms that the Yahya Khan had a one to one meeting with Chou En-lai the next day after his arrival. From accounts I gathered later on from the Yahya Khan, he conveyed President Nixon's proposal for sending an envoy to China to meet Chou En-lai or some other Chinese leader to discuss problems between the two countries. Chou En-lai gave his reply the next day after consulting Mao and he used a phraseology which gives typically his own and reflected his personality. He said we have received many proposals from different sources for establishing contact with the United States but this is the first time a message has come from a head, he meant head of state, this is the first time a message has come from a head, through a head, to a head. The United States knows that Pakistan is a great friend of China and therefore we attach importance to the message you have given, and we accept the proposal to receive an envoy of President Nixon in Beijing. Then went the condition with the acceptance, to discuss the question of location of Chinese territory. I didn't know about it while we were in Beijing for four or five days, nor did anyone else accompanying President Yahya Khan.

The trip was marked by some other events of great significance like China wrote off all the financial debts owed by Pakistan up to that date. China also signed an agreement with Pakistan for further military supplies, and Yahya Khan had every reason to be very happy and pleased with the visit. But on the day of our departure from Beijing to Dakka, which was then capital of East Pakistan, now of Bangladesh, news came up that there was devastating cyclone followed by tidal wave which had hit the coastal area of what was then East Pakistan. Nobody knew the extent of destruction but it was known that it was serious. The Yahya Khan’s attention was diverted by the cyclone in East Pakistan, he was also involved with finalizing the steps for holding an election in East Pakistan.

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