542. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State 1

6491. 1. I was called this morning to FonOff at request of FonMin, who received me in presence Minister Mines Mayobre. They told me they were under instructions President Leoni (a) to pledge Venezuelan [Page 1129] petroleum to needs of free world in current crisis,2 but (b) also to convey request GOV be included in planning now going on in Washington for distribution this natural resource.

2. Mayobre said wire service stories report Emergency Committee on Petroleum is now being convened in Washington and GOV desires to be consulted. FonMin asked this request be telegraphed at once. He added Tejera Paris will be informed.

3. Mayobre stated events convince GOV that Venezuela is an essential part of “security zone” and should be accorded corresponding privileges. He said GOV concerned that great demands might now be made on its petroleum and, after crisis, market would again be limited. GOV wants to avoid this situation and therefore believes status in U.S. market should be improved.

4. I pointed out at this juncture that dislocation petroleum supply situation, if crisis continues, would be mainly in Western Europe. Mayobre agreed. He then said GOV realized on normal basis Middle Eastern and African oil more competitive in Europe. Venezuela, on other hand, from economic, political and hemisphere security point of view has a natural and complementary relationship with U.S.


5. Would appear from foregoing that GOV believes Middle East crisis supports their contention that Ven oil vital to U.S. national security and therefore that Ven should receive better treatment under MOIP.

6. Although Emb of opinion that GOV has perhaps overestimated U.S. need for additional Venezuelan oil in present situation it nevertheless believes would be desirable for Dept give consideration to GOV participation, as appropriate, in meetings to consider effect present situation on petroleum supply and distribution, and that GOV be kept informed regarding plans involving increased use Ven petroleum.

7. GOV position re consultation consistent with text KennedyBetancourt communiqué of Feb 20, 1963.3

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8. I would appreciate Department’s response soonest to considerations raised in foregoing conversation with two ministers.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, PET 15 VEN. Confidential; Immediate. Passed to the White House and USIA.
  2. Reference is to the outbreak on June 5 of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In response to Egyptian charges of Western support for Israeli air strikes, most Arab oil-producing states agreed by June 7 to suspend oil shipments to the United States and Great Britain.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 528.
  4. In telegram 209131 to Caracas, June 7, the Department replied that Solomon and Tejera Paris had discussed the impact of the Arab oil embargo on Western Europe, agreeing to “consult closely together during the present crisis.” The Department added: “We are reluctant to go further than bilateral consultations since we see considerable problems in inviting GOV to participate even as observer in US Foreign Petroleum Supply Committee.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR) Bernbaum later reported that the Leoni administration had decided to increase production by 300,000 barrels per day, but that “production beyond that amount will be subject new conditions.” (Telegram 6586 from Caracas, June 14; ibid., PET 17–2 VEN)