The Acting Deputy Under Secretary of State ( Murphy ) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs ( Nash )1

top secret

Dear Mr. Nash : I refer to the letter of June 25, 19532 from the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense3 to the Secretary of State requesting that arrangements be made through diplomatic channels for the resumption of the military staff conversations of March 1951 between United States and Venezuelan military representatives, which were terminated on the initiative of Venezuelan military authorities primarily because of Venezuelan dissatisfaction at not being able to purchase United States military equipment on satisfactory payment and delivery terms under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949,4 as amended.

After the receipt of the letter of June 2 [25], 1953, representatives of the Department of State discussed the subject of staff conversations with representatives of the Department of Defense, who agreed that the success of further military conversations would depend in very large part on the ability of the United States to assist Venezuela in the procurement of United States military equipment. Accordingly, it was decided that United States military representatives participating in the conversations should be prepared to discuss the procurement of equipment in very specific terms, and that the Department of Defense should therefore prepare, prior to the resumption of conversations: (a) price and availability estimates on military equipment reported by the United States Embassy, at Caracas, to be desired by Venezuela; (b) an analytical report showing how much of the equipment set forth in the list appended to the Agreement Document of 1951, and how much additional equipment, Venezuela has sought to purchase from the United [Page 1660] States since 1951, including amounts actually purchased and delivered. This understanding between Department of State and Department of Defense representatives was transmitted to the United States Embassy, at Caracas, in airgram No. A–9 of June 16, 1953,5 approved by the Department of Defense, with the request that the Embassy ascertain current Venezuelan requirements necessary for the development of the price and availability estimates referred to in (a) above. The Embassy has set forth current Venezuelan requirements for equipment in despatch No. 562 of October 7, 1953,6 which requests that the agreed price and availability estimates be prepared and the Embassy authorized to make a formal request to Venezuela for a resumption of staff conversations at a date early enough to avoid conflict with preparations for the Tenth Inter-American Conference planned to convene about March 1, 1954.7 A copy of the Embassy’s despatch is enclosed.

The Department of State would appreciate being informed of the approximate date on which United States military representatives would be prepared to resume conversations with Venezuelan military representatives, taking into account the time required for the preparation of the analytical report and the price and availability estimates which Department of Defense representatives have agreed should be completed before the resumption of conversations. In addition, it is suggested that the Department of Defense indicate whether it would be preferable for the conversations to be held in Caracas, as originally planned, or in the Canal Zone. When this information has been provided, the Department of State will authorize the Embassy to make a formal approach to the Venezuelan Government for the resumption of conversations.

The Department of State is of the opinion that Venezuela will continue to consider the procurement of equipment and the negotiation of defense arrangements to be matters of considerable political importance. In fact, it is conceivable that Venezuelan military representatives participating in the conversations may consider that one or more of the subjects under discussion should be referred to the Venezuelan Foreign Office or the Venezuelan President for discussion with the United States Government at the diplomatic level. In order to be fully prepared to meet such a contingency, it is important that the Department of State be fully advised regarding the subjects to be discussed during the conversations and provided with copies of any arrangements or agreements to be proposed to Venezuelan military representatives, together with copies of the estimates and studies referred to in (a) and [Page 1661] (b) above. It is also suggested that the Department of Defense approve the assignment of a political officer from the United States Embassy at Caracas to attend the meetings as a political advisor to United States military representatives.

The Department of State notes that the letter of June 2 [25], 1953 from the Department of Defense has been classified, Confidential–Security Information. Provided that the Department of Defense concurs, the Department of State will apply this classification to all existing papers and correspondence on the subject of military staff conversations with Venezuela.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. Drafted by George O. Spencer of the Office of Regional American Affairs.
  2. Not printed (831.2553/6–2553).
  3. N. E. Halaby.
  4. Public Law 329, approved Oct. 6, 1949; for text, see 63 Stat. 715.
  5. Not printed (731.5 MSP/7–1653).
  6. Not printed (731.5 MSP/10–753).
  7. For documentation concerning the conference, see pp. 264 ff.