Item 100 - Letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

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PETH/5/100

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Letter from V. K. Krishna Menon to Lord Pethick-Lawrence

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  • 17 Nov. 1956 (Creation)

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Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, 3 East 64th Street, New York.—Agrees with his views regarding the actions of the British Government in the Middle East, and shares his concern for Indo-British relations. Discusses the current situation in Egypt.

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Transcript

Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations,
3 East 64th Street, New York 21, N.Y.

17 November 1956

My dear Lord Pethwick† Lawrence,

Thank you for your letter. It was kind of you to have written to me. I had no doubt at all about your position or indeed of any responsible sane person in England! I share your apprehensions about Indo-British relations. There is much pressure in India in regard to this but I think and hope we will behave with a sense of maturity and proportion. I have fear, however, that if the U.K. pursues its predatory policy and finds a pretext for waging more war or pursuing expansionism perhaps using the Russian menace as an excuse we shall have serious difficulty.

The situation in regard to Egypt is anything but satisfactory. The reports we have of atrocities and the nature of the campaign waged there are shocking. It is inconceivable to us that in the present age that† British or their Commanders would behave in this way. I understand that Mr Gaitskell has been sent some information from independent sources by eye witnesses. As you probably know, journalists are not allowed into this area and our report, which I do not wish to be quoted, is that some of them have been arrested and detained for short periods. These are European journalists.

However, in regard to British policy, there is appreciation in India that the U.K. is very divided on this matter, and while there was much regret in the initial position of the Labour Party in August, there is understanding now that this is a fanatical approach to a difficult problem by the present Government and leaders. The next phase of this, if it is not renewal of war, would be an attempt to use the present crisis and the fact that the Middle East affairs† is before the United Nations, to attain through the U.N. and the U.S. the control of the Suez Canal under the guise of international organization. This issue of course is part of the general problem of internationalisation of waterways to which we all subscribe.

I am personally very apprehensive for all that goes on and whether it will be in regard to the Middle East or Hungary events can drift to a situation of world war.

On the topic that you have kindly written to me, namely, Indo-British relations, there is at present no danger of precipitate action. But I can envisage a situation where nothing else becomes possible say in the case of Britain being involved in a prolonged war.

Kind regards

Yours ever
Krishna

Lord Pethwick† Lawrence,
11 Old Square,
London, W.C.2. England.

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Marked by a secretary, ‘Let P-L ack: receipt of this letter on his Xmas card to Menon. 22/11/56.’

† Sic.

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