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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Nixon's dislike of 'witch' Indira
Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon
Kissinger and Nixon opposed an independent Bangladesh
Ex-US President Richard Nixon called Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi an "old witch", according to recently released documents from the 1970s.

His national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, said "the Indians are bastards anyway" in the run-up to the India-Pakistan war of 1971.

At the time, the US saw India as too close to the then Soviet Union.

The US state department has declassified many documents this month on US foreign policy of the time.

One key conversation transcript comes from the meeting between President Nixon and Mr Kissinger in the White House on 5 November 1971, shortly after a meeting with the visiting Indira Gandhi.

MAY 26 1971
Kissinger: They are the most aggressive goddamn people around there
Nixon: The Indians?
Kissinger: Yeah
Nixon: Sure

"We really slobbered over the old witch," says President Nixon.

"The Indians are bastards anyway," says Mr Kissinger. "They are starting a war there."

He adds: "While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted too. She will not be able to go home and say that the United States didn't give her a warm reception and therefore in despair she's got to go to war."

'Special relationship'

The Indo-Pakistan war took place between November and December 1971.

Richard Nixon
The Pakistanis are straightforward and sometimes extremely stupid. The Indians are more devious, sometimes so smart that we fall for their line
Richard Nixon

It had its roots in demands in 1970 by East Pakistan, later Bangladesh, for independence.

In March 1971, Pakistan's military acted to put down the secessionists there. Millions fled to India's West Bengal state.

India supported an independent Bangladesh and ties with the US plummeted in August 1971 when Delhi signed a treaty with the Soviet Union that included mutual military assistance in case of war.

President Nixon, on the other hand, had developed a "special relationship" with Pakistan's then military dictator, General Yahya Khan.

In a White House conversation with Mr Kissinger on 4 June 1971, President Nixon berates his ambassador to India, Kenneth Keating, for wanting to, as Mr Kissinger puts it, "help India push the Pakistanis out".

President Nixon says: "I don't want him to come in with that kind of jackass thing with me... Keating, like every ambassador who goes over there, goes over there and gets sucked in."

Indira Gandhi
Indira Gandhi sought stronger links with the Soviet Union

Mr Kissinger then says: "Those sons-of-bitches, who never have lifted a finger for us, why should we get involved in the morass of East Pakistan?

"If East Pakistan becomes independent, it is going to become a cesspool. It's going to be 100 million people, they have the lowest standard of living in Asia."

President Nixon replies: "Yeah."

Mr Kissinger: "They're going to become a ripe field for communist infiltration."

President Nixon then openly courted China to try to turn the tide of the war Pakistan's way.

With the Indian army and armed Bengali separatists winning, the US on 10 December 1971 urged Beijing to mobilise troops towards India, saying the US would back it if the Soviet Union became involved.

China declined and on 16 December the war ended with the Indian army and Bengali separatists taking Dhaka.

Exiled leaders had declared Bangladesh independent on 26 March 1971 and, in 1972, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to become the country's first prime minister.

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