581. Memorandum of a Conversation, The White House, Washington, November 23, 19561


  • Venezuelan Foreign Minister’s Courtesy Call on President Eisenhower


  • The President
  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela2
  • Ambassador Gonzalez
  • ARA—Mr. Rubottom

After an exchange of salutations the Foreign Minister, on behalf of the President of Venezuela and the Venezuelan people, congratulated the President on his reelection. He also conveyed their gratification over the President’s complete recuperation from his operation last summer. The President thanked the Foreign Minister and said he was very happy to see him again, mentioning how much he had enjoyed the meeting of Presidents at Panama.

The Foreign Minister then referred to the serious world crisis brought on by the Suez Canal problem. The President replied that there had been a serious problem created by the unwarranted seizure of the Canal by the Egyptians last July. He declared that, while there might be some legal basis to support the Egyptian nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, it was difficult to comprehend why Egypt had not waited 12 years for the treaty to expire, at which time she would have been completely within her rights to take over the [Page 1148] Canal, charge whatever fees she liked, and take full advantage of her strategic position vis-à-vis the Canal. The Foreign Minister described Nasser as a very dangerous element in the world picture today, and the President indicated his agreement.

The Foreign Minister inquired as to how the President viewed the world situation. The President responded that he was generally optimistic, if for no other reason than that the force of today’s weapons is so terrible as to deter any power, including the USSR, from getting so close to the edge of a world conflict as to be unable to retreat. To the Foreign Minister’s query as to whether the Russians could not be clearly forewarned that they should not step across a certain line, the President declared that this posed great difficulties and that he thought the Soviet leaders did not dare to chance a world war because it would certainly mean their country’s destruction. The President alluded to the Caracas Declaration against the threat of communism to the Americas, saying that it was unfortunate that other areas in the world did not have the same awareness of the communist menace.

The discussion turned to Hungary, both the President and the Foreign Minister deploring the horrible brutality of the recent Soviet intervention there. The Foreign Minister said that he had challenged Shepilov in the General Assembly on his cynical statement that Russian military intervention in Hungary had been at the invitation of the Hungarian Government which they immediately kicked out.

In commenting on his appreciation of the solidarity and common purpose of the American Republics, the President said that the Americas conceivably could isolate themselves from the rest of the world but that such a course was not feasible or desirable and that we would have to do everything possible to see to it that Western Europe and the rest of the free world was not overrun by the Communists. He stressed that we all should look toward solutions in the UN which might enable us eventually to spend less on defense budgets, now costing the U.S. about $43 billion per year.

The President drew a distinction between the aggressive imperialistic aims of international communism, as represented by the Soviets, and the communism of Yugoslavia which seemed to be directed internally rather than externally, but remarked that there was no difference in the treatment of the people who came under the communist yoke.

Ambassador Gonzalez recalled that he had just arrived in Washington at the time of the inauguration in 1952 and that he was looking forward to attending the President’s second inauguration next January. The President thanked the Foreign Minister for his visit and asked him to convey his regards and best wishes to President Perez Jimenez on his return to Caracas. The President also [Page 1149] commented that he hoped it might be possible some time during his second term to have another meeting with the other Presidents of the Americas. Mr. Rubottom commented that the President would most certainly be taken up on that idea if he really meant it, and the President replied that he indeed did mean it.

The photographers were invited into the President’s office at the end of the call to take pictures of the group.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Secret. Drafted by Rubottom.
  2. José Loreto Arismendi.