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426. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Prime Minister Forbes Burnham of Guyana
  • Sir JOHN Carter, Ambassador to the United States from Guyana
  • Mr. Robert M. Sayre, Acting Assistant Secretary of State
  • Mr. William G. Bowdler, the White House

Two substantive issues were discussed in Prime Minister Burnhamʼs 20-minute meeting with the President.

On the Guyanese elections the Prime Minister thought he would have to go to elections by November 1968. He said he was “calmly confident” about the outcome. The President stressed the importance of maintaining his coalition strong.2

The Prime Minister described his border difficulties with Venezuela during the past year. He referred to Venezuelaʼs having blocked Guyana from eligibility to sign the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone Treaty at the UN last session.3 He asked the President if the United States could use its influence with Venezuela to be less “bellicose” about the boundary problem. Mr. Sayre explained that we had been active with both sides in keeping the dispute quiet. The President asked Mr. Sayre for a memorandum on the subject.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 GUYANA. Confidential. Drafted by Bowdler and approved in the White House. The meeting was held in the Presidentʼs office. Burnham visited Washington for medical care at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. A Department of State briefing paper prepared for the meeting recommended the President congratulate Burnham on 3 years of stability and racial peace, assure him of the high priority of the AID program in Guyana and that “we have also selected our best people to send to Georgetown,” and be aware that Burnham might request that the United States influence the Government of Venezuela to ease its border dispute pressures on Guyana. (Memorandum for the President from Rusk, January 20; ibid.)
  2. A January 20 memorandum for the President from Rostow noted that Guyanaʼs uneasy coalition partnership had become shaky over appointments and budgetary issues and stressed that “a word from you on the importance of maintaining uneasy political combinations in election years would be useful.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Guyana (Brit. G.), Vol. I, Cables, Memos, and Misc., 5/66–11/68)
  3. The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America was signed at Mexico City on February 14, 1967, and entered into force on April 22, 1968. The United States was not a signatory, but was party to two Additional Protocols dealing with matters concerning non-Latin American nuclear powers. (Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements, Texts and Histories of Negotiations, 1982, pp. 59–81)
  4. See Document 430.