312. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Solomon) to the Assistant Secretary of Transportation for International Affairs and Special Programs (Agger)1

Dear Don:

I have your letter of December 42 concerning our proposed direct approach to the Cubans on the subject of hijacking. You suggest that if we substituted a concerted approach from Canada, Mexico and the U.S., we might have a greater chance of enlisting Cuban cooperation.

You are obviously correct in your implicit belief that a direct suggestion by the U.S. may not be successful. We agree there is merit in stressing the multilateral view of the problem. For this reason our efforts to date have involved action by IATA and ICAO. Unfortunately, the IATA efforts, which have been direct and skillful, have been rebuffed to date by the Cubans.ICAO seems to be having difficulty moving very rapidly.

We have also considered concerted action with other Western Hemisphere countries, but have felt that, on balance, it was preferable for these countries to go to the Cubans separately. There are several reasons. First, if Castro has difficulty with a U.S. approach, this difficulty would infect the whole of any joint approach, and thus make it more difficult for him to agree with the Canadians, Mexicans or others to the principle of returning hijackers for trial. Second, we earlier discussed with the Mexicans their taking up this problem with Cuba, but subsequent events, in their judgment, made the time inopportune. While the Mexicans have their own hijacking problem, we doubt that they would be in a position to move promptly on a joint approach. Third, there remains the outside possibility that Cuba may in fact prefer to deal with the U.S., particularly in a situation where the U.S. has taken the first step.

I might add that Knut Hammarskjold is continuing his multilateral efforts, and plans to sound out the Cubans about the possibility of an IATA legal committee meeting in Havana to consider this problem.3

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In view of these various considerations, we would not think it advisable at this time to try the combined Canadian-Mexican-U.S. approach that you suggest. However, we will bear it in mind along with other possible concerted approaches.

Sincerely yours,

Anthony M. Solomon 4
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, AV 12. Confidential. Drafted by Loy and Solomon and cleared by Fitzgerald.
  2. Not found.
  3. On the same day Loy also wrote a comprehensive memorandum tracking the status of all State Department measures to deal with the hijacking problem. (Memorandum from Loy to Vaky, et al., December 12; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, AV 12)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.