568. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Herter in Washington and Secretary of State for External Affairs Green in Ottawa, July 28, 19601

Mr. Green telephoned to say he had Ambassador Wigglesworth in on Sunday2 and explained something to him about Cuba. The Secretary said he had gotten the message from Wigglesworth and that an answer was on its way. Mr. Green said he wanted to tell the Secretary very confidentially what has come up now, i.e., the suggestion is that the three of them (Canada, Mexico and Brazil) should get in touch informally and ask whether it would be all right for the Heads of State to write letters offering their good offices. Mr. Green said he wanted to clear this with the Secretary before doing anything on this.

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The Secretary said he had discussed this matter with the President3 and would like to explain our position to Mr. Green. The Secretary said we are naturally most grateful for the spirit motivating this offer, but this question is going to arise at a meeting of Foreign Ministers set for August 15 in Costa Rica, having been referred by the U.N. to the OAS. The Secretary said one thing in connection with this whole Cuban business is the fact we are most anxious to establish that this is not just a quarrel between the U.S. and Cuba as such, but rather what is happening is a matter of concern to all the Latin American countries. The Secretary said the feeling we had in connection with the offer of good offices is that this is something that might well come after the OAS Foreign Ministers meeting rather than before it, because we are afraid if it came before it would complicate things a good deal and would look as though this dispute were only between the U.S. and Cuba and nobody else, which is really not the case. The Secretary said at the August 15 OAS Foreign Ministers meeting they will first discuss Venezuela’s problem with the Dominican Republic and then an agenda item will come up dealing with the intervention of a foreign power in the whole Inter-American system, which puts the Cuban matter in the broader context and gets us away from the appearance of a US-Cuban dispute. The Secretary said it was his feeling that, while we appreciate tremendously their willingness to help, the offer of good offices before the OAS meeting would be narrowing the problem down to a matter just between the US and Cuba which we want to avoid.

Mr. Green said the proposal is that the U.S. be just contacted informally, and Mr. Green said if this were done, could we just say we would prefer to let it ride and see what happens at the OAS meeting? The Secretary said we could so reply, but we would not want to do it publicly and said this is the gist of our response to Wigglesworth’s message. Mr. Green asked if it would embarrass us if next week the three countries asked us informally whether it would help if there were letters written by the Heads of State and then we could say we would prefer to let it ride. The Secretary said we would rather not have this informal contact since the difficulty is that even though it is informal it is very apt to leak. The Secretary said, however, it was not that we didn’t appreciate the goodwill involved here. Mr. Green said he saw the point, and they will try to work it out that way. The Secretary said he was personally very much interested in this whole matter, and Mr. Green said he knew it was very difficult for us. The Secretary said he had just written Mr. Green a personal note4 giving [Page 1039] him some background on the Cuban problem generally and Mr. Green said he would appreciate having that very much.

[Here follows discussion of a matter unrelated to Cuba.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations. The time of the conversation is not indicated on the source text.
  2. July 24.
  3. This discussion has not been further identified.
  4. Not found.