166. Memorandum of a Conversation, Blair House, Washington, January 21, 1959, 10–11 a.m.1


  • Conversation Between President Frondizi and Secretary Dulles


  • President Frondizi of Argentina
  • Mr. Dulles, Secretary of State
  • Mr. R.R. Rubottom, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs
  • Willard L. Beaulac, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina

The Secretary of State said that fortunately there were very few problems between Argentina and the United States and that he had no particular matter to take up with the President but he would be happy to hear any comment which the President might make concerning our relations.

The President referred to the progress made in Argentina in the economic field already. He said that the petroleum problem had been solved, the power problem had been substantially solved, and the problem of the meat packers will be solved by the issuance of decrees shortly.

There remain a few fields in which progress is needed—the field of hydroelectric power, particularly the Chocon project in Patagonia and the problem of steel.

Argentina will need additional credits from international organizations and from the United States Government. The hydroelectric and steel projects should be carried out by private interests but those interests of course will need long-term credits. Argentina’s balance of payments does not permit liquidation of short-term obligations.

The Secretary expressed admiration of the measures already taken by the Frondizi Government in the economic field and his confidence that those measures and the measures to be taken will result in rapid development in Argentina. He expressed U.S. interest in cooperating in the process.

President Frondizi then indicated Argentina’s desire to obtain armaments in the United States for the Argentine Navy, Air Force and Army. Mr. Rubottom recalled that there had been conversations concerning the transfer to Argentina of a submarine and Argentina had [Page 532] also been told that a number of modern jet planes which it desired were available to it. The difficulty, of course, as we recognized, was one of price. The subjects were still under discussion.

President Frondizi said he would like to point out that the Army as well as the Navy and Air Force requires armaments.

The Secretary, speaking philosophically and making clear that he was not addressing himself to the Argentine situation, with which he was unfamiliar, spoke of the desirability in his view of countries limiting their expenditures for armaments. Even the United States had great difficulty in paying for costly armaments.

President Frondizi said that Argentina had never been over armed, that what the armed services wanted in Argentina was to have a small amount of modern arms as a result of which they hoped that the size of the services and the cost of maintaining them could be reduced.

The President then urged prompt action by the four guarantors to bring about an ending to the Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute.2 He said it was a reflection on the inter-American system that this dispute had not yet been settled and he saw no reason why such guarantors as the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Chile should not proceed to bring about a settlement. He mentioned in particular the excellent present attitude of Peru toward a settlement.

Mr. Rubottom referred to the conversations he had had with Foreign Minister Florit in which the Foreign Minister had referred to the excellent attitude now being shown by Peru and to recent bellicose statements by Ecuador. Mr. Rubottom recalled that great efforts had been made by the guarantors to bring about a settlement of this dispute which dates back to 1942. He thought we should bear in mind that whereas Peru, according to the Argentines, is showing an excellent attitude now, it has not always done so in the past when Ecuador has shown a disposition to settle. He pointed out the desirability of not giving the impression that we tend to favor one side against the other and that we must be sure to give a full hearing to Ecuador as well as to Peru. He thought we should continue to press for settlement and suggested that our Ambassador in Rio de Janeiro could be given new instructions to supplement his standing instructions to work to that end together with his colleagues of the other guarantor countries. Mr. Rubottom at the same time referred to problems in the way of settlement such as national pride.

[Page 533]

The Secretary expressed the hope that pride in the inter-American system could help to overcome the sentiment of nationalism and that a settlement could be reached promptly within the inter-American system.

The Secretary noted that President Frondizi had an engagement at eleven at the Argentine Embassy with his compatriots and said that he did not want to hold him further. He recalled that he would sit next to the President at dinner tonight and that they would have an opportunity at that time to talk about world affairs. He said, of course, that our Government was prepared to discuss any other aspects of Argentine-U.S. relations which might occur to Dr. Frondizi during his stay here.

Dr. Frondizi expressed his pleasure at the meeting. He emphasized that his Government would keep its word, that as he had said to our Ambassador in Argentina, “When I say yes I mean yes and when I say no I mean no.” “Argentina’s word is as good as its bond.”

Dr. Frondizi expressed the opinion that Argentina would be “over the hump” economically in two years.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 735.11/1–2159. Confidential. Drafted by Beaulac. A more detailed memorandum of the conversation was prepared by Donald Barnes, Department of State interpreter for the Frondizi visit, at the request of President Frondizi for his personal use. (ibid., 611.35/3–459) In a memorandum to Bernbaum, March 4, O’Connor stated that Barnes’ version provided greater detail than the “official version drafted by Ambassador Beaulac, but agrees with it.” (ibid.)
  2. The United States, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, were Guarantors under the provisions of the Rio Protocol of 1942, which was negotiated to resolve existing boundary disputes between Ecuador and Peru. Certain disputes were resolved, but demarcation activities were suspended in 1949. For text of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Boundaries Between Peru and Ecuador, signed at Rio de Janeiro (Rio Protocol), January 29, 1942, see 3 Bevans 700.