Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Milton Barall of the Office of South American Affairs

Participants: Mario Rodríguez, Minister Counselor, Chilean Embassy
Mr. Bernbaum, Officer in Charge, NWC, OSA
Mr. Barall, Chile Desk Office, OSA

Mr. Bernbaum explained that certain Latin American nations were being invited to negotiate bilaterally with the United States, under the terms of the Mutual Security Act of 19511 which allotted $38 millions for furthering hemispheric defense. He pointed out that while other countries were also being approached, their names were still secret and that the Ambassadors had not been called in since the visit of a series of Ambassadors would have aroused undesirable speculative interest in this matter. Mr. Bernbaum stated that the actual approach to the Chilean Government would be made through our Embassy in Santiago and that the purpose of this conversation was to keep the Chilean Embassy in Washington abreast of developments. Upon receipt of a favorable reply from the Chilean Government, the American Ambassador in Chile would be ready to begin negotiations immediately. He would be assisted by a general or flag officer, and other officers of the armed forces, who could be dispatched from the United States immediately. At such time as it was agreed to negotiate, public announcement could be made.

Mr. Rodriguez expressed pleasure at being informed of developments and stated that his government had been wondering how the Mutual Security Act would be implemented. He mentioned the fact that the Chilean Constitution required Congressional approval before sending troops abroad or before permitting foreign troops to be stationed on Chilean soil. Therefore, he was of the opinion that any agreement reached would have to be submitted to the Chilean legislature for ratification. He also pointed out that the Chileans very firmly regard the Straits of Magellan as national waters and that if the United States contemplated joint protection of the Straits by Chile and Argentina this would certainly meet with a great deal of opposition [Page 1290] in Chile. Mr. Rodríguez said he would inform his government that the approach would be made through the Foreign Office.2

  1. For text of the Mutual Security Act (Public Law 165), approved October 10, 1951, see 65 Stat. 373.
  2. In telegram 319, from Santiago, December 22, 1951, not printed, Ambassador Bowers informed the Department of State that he had left an aide-mémoire with the Chilean Foreign Minister inquiring whether the Chilean Government wished’ to enter into bilateral negotiations for a mutual security agreement (725.5–MSP/12–2251). The Chilean Government accepted the invitation, and the negotiations began on January 21, 1952 (725.5-MSP/1–2152).