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Sultan Mohammed Khan, Foreign Secretary, Pakistan, on:
Dr. Kissingers journey to China
Dr. Kissinger carefully provided equal time for Delhi and for Islamabad so that Delhi wouldn't feel that its importance was being downgraded. It had been planned that when he reached Islamabad it would be announced that he was exhausted by this long trip and by the heat and needed a couple of days rest. But we were provided with genuine excuse when Dr. Kissinger announced upon arrival that he'd picked up some infection in Delhi, he'd eaten some food and it caused him some discomfort the night, and it became the official reason for his taking rest and so on. His meeting with Yahya Khan was on a one to one basis to start with, then there was dinner at which the atmosphere was mainly relaxed, jovial. Kissinger even teased Yahya Khan and said, "Mr. President, for an elected dictator you ran a lousy election." I am told that in the meeting which took place on a one to one basis between the Yahya Khan and Kissinger, the emphasis was mostly on Kissinger asking how to handle the Chinese in the toast, how to treat them, how to respond. After an isolation of two decades he wanted to learn as much as he could about the Chinese technique of talking to foreigners, how much one should withhold and so on. |
Dr. Kissinger took off from Islamabad, arrived in Beijing, had meetings several times with Chou En-lai, sometimes with the aides, and after spending two days here he returned to Islamabad on the 11th. I went to see Yahya Khan, and we waited for a signal from the plane to let us know when it approached Pakistan Airport. And as it finally came, we were all relieved that it had gone smoothly and I went to the airport. Now this time it was a bit tricky because Dr. Kissinger's plane from Beijing was in broad daylight and there might be some curiosity on the part of people why this civilian aircraft was using the airforce space to disembark passengers. I think it's one of those blessings which attended this visit that nothing happened by way of creating a risk for leakage. I brought Dr. Kissinger back to the residence. He was extremely excited and he was telling me what a wonderful visit he had had. He talked in general terms about Chou En-lai, what a great statesman Chou En-lai is, how different from other world leaders -- kind, hospitable, willing to listen to the other point of view.
The Chinese said something to Dr. Kissinger which shows the Chinese concern and their regard for friends. Dr. Kissinger had been greatly intrigued by a small bridge in the guest house area where he stayed. This compound includes eleven or twelve guest houses, each near but isolated from each other so that no-one knows who is staying in the other guest house and their sentries -- Chinese guards -- all over the place. He tried to walk across this bridge towards the other guest house but was stopped by the Chinese guard. I don't know how but Chou En-lai came to know about this and on the final visit to Dr. Kissinger, Chou En-lai suggested they take a stroll outside. While walking he took him across this bridge and while crossing the bridge he said: "Let us not forget the bridge which made this meeting possible, Pakistan has played a crucial role. It's that it is a bridge between us and we should never forget it." And the Chinese never forgot it; they have not forgotten it even today. Well after the visit had taken place and announcements had been made, the rest is part of history. Another channel was set up directly between Washington and Beijing, and Pakistan had done its role.
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