361. Minutes of a Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Chile


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • William Porter
  • Jack Kubisch
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Robert Hill
  • V/Adm. Ray Peet
  • JCS
  • Adm. John P. Weinel
  • CIA
  • William Nelson
  • David Phillips
  • Treasury
  • William Simon
  • Michael Bradfield
  • OMB
  • Dolph Bridgewater
  • NSC
  • B/Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Richard Kennedy
  • William Jorden
  • Charles Cooper
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

. . . recognition of the new government would be announced on Monday, 24 September 1973;

. . . Ambassador Davis is to talk to the junta on Friday, September 21, to inform them of our goodwill, our intention to recognize in the next few days, and about the delivery of medical supplies;

. . . a cable will be sent to Ambassador Davis telling him: of our intention to recognize and when; when the emergency food supplies will be delivered; and authorizing the Ambassador to discuss, with the junta, Chile’s middle-and long-term economic needs;

. . . an economic team would not be sent to Chile until the junta requests one;

. . . the Chile Working Group will continue in operation.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s talk about Chile first and then Cambodia. Would you like to give us a briefing? (to Mr. Nelson)

[Page 931]

Mr. Nelson briefed from the attached text.2

Mr. Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Porter) or Jack (Mr. Kubisch), any comments?

Mr. Porter: I think the first thing we ought to talk about is the matter of recognition. Twenty countries have already recognized, but the crucial thing is the timing in connection with your confirmation. The new government is an established fact, so it’s okay to go ahead with recognition, but the timing . . .

Mr. Clements: I think you ought to wait until after confirmation.

Mr. Kissinger: Why?

Mr. Clements: The Chileans know of the vote coming up. They are in no particular hurry.

Mr. Kissinger: Has the new government been told by (Ambassador) Davis of our intentions to recognize and of our good-will toward them?

Mr. Kubisch: Yes, they understand we want to wait. In my opinion, we should wait until after the vote. The choice is either Friday, Saturday, or Monday.3

Mr. Kissinger: Saturday would be all right, if the committee votes tomorrow.

Mr. Porter: Monday is no problem either.

Mr. Kissinger: Monday is the first day of the UN.

Mr. Clements: Would anything be gained by this being one of your first acts?

Mr. Kissinger: There’s no way to avoid this being one of my first acts. If the choice is Monday, there will be plenty of activity between now and then.

Mr. Kubisch: When do you expect to take the oath?

Mr. Kissinger: Saturday.

Mr. Kubisch: I can see some advantage in Monday.

Mr. Kissinger: I’m relaxed about the whole thing. I don’t see what would be gained by waiting until Tuesday.

Mr. Kubisch: Perhaps after the Senate votes—tomorrow afternoon.

Mr. Kissinger: What is the normal way these things are done. Is there some set procedure?

Mr. Kubisch: Right now would be a good time. They have satisfied the requirements.

Mr. Kissinger: I guess we should do it either Saturday or Monday. I’m under no pressure on this thing, I really don’t give a damn . . .

[Page 932]

Mr. Clements: Unless there is some issue that needs to be settled first, I think we ought to bite the bullet on this thing. I see no argument for not recognizing tomorrow.

Mr. Kubisch: We could couch it in low-key language, that we’ve decided to recognize the new government, and let it go at that. That way we’ll keep the heat off.

Mr. Kissinger: I’ll take the heat, if there is any.

Mr. Simon: Speaking of heat, what is the press doing to us down there. They are complaining about inadequate responses from the new government. Did you speak to them Jack?

Mr. Kubisch: I did, and think it went very well. There are about 75 to 90 journalists in Chile now, and we’ll be starting to get their stuff in droves.

Mr. Kissinger: Senator Church the other day dropped me a note raising the question of asylum. What’s the problem?

Mr. Kubisch: That doesn’t pertain to us. There are few Americans caught up in it. Most are third-country nationals who have fled their own countries and got caught up in this thing. The government’s holding about 5,000 in the stadium. They have been very candid about this. They intend to treat them in accordance with military courts. If innocent, they will be free to return to Cuba. If guilty, the junta intends to deal with them harshly. The question that Senator Church is really addressing is human rights. The UN Human Rights Commission has already looked into this and given Chile a clean bill of health.

Mr. Porter: We ought to encourage them (the refugees) to go to Mexico or France, it would offer a way out.

Mr. Kubisch: You may be questioned closely on this up there. (New York)

Mr. Kissinger: Church also mentioned some OAS Committee. Is there such a thing?

Mr. Kubisch: Probably the OAS Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Porter: The junta’s doing the right thing—they’re letting the press in and are taking the right stance on the refugee question.

Mr. Kissinger: That demonstrates the total naivete of the new government. If they think the press has any interest in the truth, they’re mistaken. All they will want to do is horror studies.

Mr. Porter: Yes, but the press is not being kept out.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you (to Mr. Kubisch) think (Ambassador) Davis fully understands our position?

Mr. Kubisch: I think he is almost with us. I think a good, strong message of support for him would help. He is kinda nervous, particu [Page 933] larly since it took us forty-eight hours to give him an answer to that cable.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s give him a message expressing our good-will. Tell him, informally, that we’re going to recognize.

Mr. Kubisch: He’ll appreciate that.

Mr. Kissinger: Brazil’s reaction to the flares and helmets. How do you explain that?

Mr. Kubisch: Brazil has this geopolitical concept of the world. Anything north of the islands and Central America is ours, anything south of that they don’t want us to meddle in. My interpretation is that they were trying to send us a signal—really didn’t want to do it.

Mr. Kissinger: I suppose you talked to them about economic assistance.

Mr. Kubisch: Yes.

Mr. Porter: They are in need of about a million dollars worth of medical supplies. They have about 100,000 dollars worth on hand. It’s a simple delivery, the (Chilean) air force has taken over an airport for the delivery. There will be no fanfare, no problem.

Mr. Clements: I see no problems.

Mr. Kissinger: Should we authorize the needed supplies now?

Mr. Kubisch: Now or Monday.

Adm. Peet: There’s no problem in the arrival schedule, it’s all set up.

Mr. Kissinger: Any problem with medicines and food?

Adm. Peet: No.

Mr. Kubisch: The question is, do we use (US) air force planes or commercial planes, and the timing?

(Dr. Kissinger was called out of the meeting at this point.)

Mr. Kissinger: Let me sum up. We’ll send a cable out—Defense and us—that sets forth clearly our generally favorable attitude toward the new government, on recognition. Our views on medical supplies. How about food? How are they on that?

Mr. Porter: We figure they will need about 18,000 tons. It looks to us like the CCC credits are the only way.

Mr. Simon: Whether it’s financed through the Ex-Im Bank is the question.

Mr. Cooper: Are you talking about the 200,000 to 250,000 tons that will be needed over the longer term? The question is how to finance the CCC credits. Agriculture sees no problem and has already agreed to go ahead and unblock on the CCC credits.

Mr. Simon: No, I’m talking about the longer term.

[Page 934]

Mr. Cooper: Well, we’re talking about the emergency food needs.

Mr. Kissinger: Are we sending in emergency food needs. Can we justify this as an emergency?

Mr. Kubisch: Yes, but the delivery is a matter of timing.

Mr. Kissinger: You suggest after recognition?

Mr. Kubisch: Yes. Shipment can be by air, via Argentina.

Mr. Kissinger: If conditions permit. This asylum issue is like pulling teeth. You’re going to hear a lot of screaming. Has Davis been instructed to support us on this?

Mr. Kubisch: Yes, but I’m not clear on the timing. Do you want to do it after recognition.

Mr. Kissinger: We’ll wait until Monday.

Mr. Porter: We have to have a decision on this food business. I think we should go the CCC route.

Mr. Kubisch: We have to. The Ex-Im route creates problems. How much is the question, the first 18,000 tons, or all of it?

Mr. Kissinger: As I understand it, the first phase is geared toward emergency needs, no?

Mr. Kubisch: It’s our understanding that the 18,000 tons . . .

Mr. Kissinger: What’s the easiest to justify?

Mr. Simon: CCC credits are relatively high-cost. They’re three-year credits with high interest.

Mr. Cooper: But AID funds are hard to get, and there is no mechanism.

Mr. Kissinger: What are the ExIm terms?

Mr. Simon: Six percent, and they are longer term.

Mr. Clements: But we can get around to that later, no?

Mr. Simon: Yes.

Mr. Kissinger: Do you agree (to Mr. Kubisch)?

Mr. Kubisch: I go along with the CCC credits, leaving the ExIm credits until later. We can tell what the cost will be then.

Mr. Simon: Fifteen million dollars is a pretty small figure with all their other problems.

Mr. Kubisch: Then we’ll authorize (Ambassador) Davis to discuss their needs with them and then cable their proposals to Washington. It’s the quickest way we’ll find out what they really want.

Mr. Kissinger: Yes, he can do that tomorrow.

Mr. Simon: Are you aware that two Russian ships with wheat are headed there?

Mr. Kubisch: I was aware that they are to leave Hawaii, but I am not aware they are carrying wheat.

[Page 935]

Mr. Kissinger: What is this issue on the flares all about?

Mr. Kubisch: The Chileans wanted one thousand flares to use mainly at night, mostly as a scare tactic. They figure they can use these to break up demonstrations and the like. They’re for intimidation.

Mr. Kissinger: I wasn’t aware that helmets were more useful at night than during the day.

Mr. Kubisch: The helmets were secondary. The flares were important; they were going to use the helmets for draftees.

Mr. Kissinger: The next thing you’ll be telling me is that you want to transfer nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kubisch: We got in a message last night. They wanted to buy them commercially rather than on a government-to-government, and wanted them by next week. We suggested they approach third countries.

Mr. Kissinger: I know it’s sort of run-of-the-mill stuff, but I can’t believe a thousand helmets or whatever will make that much difference.

Mr. Kubisch: We can await their preference on that.

Mr. Porter: We can encourage them to look elsewhere.

Mr. Kissinger: Should Davis suggest that they sign the letter of intent after recognition?

Mr. Kubisch: I don’t know about that. I remember we agreed to send a team to Nairobi to discuss a similar case, and it worked out quite well. I think it would be desirable for (Amb.) Davis to mention it in his next talks with the new government and see what they think?

Mr. Kissinger: Put together a comprehensive message, and we’ll clear it tonight. Are they on the same time as we?

Mr. Kubisch: Yes, now that it’s Daylight Savings Time.

Mr. Kissinger: We’ll wait on the middle and longer term programs until Davis has had a chance to talk with them and find out what they want.

Mr. Simon: But, what is middle and long term? They are difficult to separate.

Mr. Kubisch: To me, it’s a question of now or next week.

Mr. Simon: I think we have an interest in pursuing the debt rescheduling now.

Mr. Kissinger: Let’s tell them that we’ll discuss rescheduling later.

Mr. Simon: I would put it on this basis, that we’re not going to cut them off, that we’re handling the debt issue. That way, funds can start flowing again. We inform them without the pressure.

Mr. Kubisch: I would prefer to concentrate on the two-to-four week emergency phase.

[Page 936]

Mr. Kissinger: The problem is the great insecurity of the new government. If we can do this now it might help.

Mr. Simon: It’s important to start thinking of the longer term.

Mr. Kubisch: Do you want to send a team down to discuss the problem?

Mr. Kissinger: I think it’s premature. Once they tell us they want to talk, then okay. We’ll talk when they are. I should think that would be sooner than four to six weeks.

Mr. Cooper: The team should be able to talk about lines of credit, stabilization loans . . .

Mr. Nelson: They will be very receptive to this type of approach.

Mr. Simon: We’ve got to make it clear that we are prepared to go all the way and that we support their government.

Mr. Cooper: It should be a small team, not more than two people who know what they’re talking about.

Mr. Kissinger: No ITT officials.

Mr. Kubisch: Did you hear the rumor that Dita Beard is being considered as the new ambassador?4

Mr. Kissinger: Okay, we’ll get a cable out telling them about the timing of recognition, the emergency food supplies, CCC credit, emergency food supplies—the level and the delivery, what do they recommend over the longer terms, and that a team will be sent when the Chileans are ready.

Mr. Kubisch: Do you want to include the investment disputes in the message?

Mr. Kissinger: That’s premature. These are the first things. We don’t want to make the mistake of appearing to press them.

Mr. Clements: Yes, that would be almost like a consideration.

Mr. Kubisch: How about military assistance?

Mr. Kissinger: It’s much too early.

Mr. Porter: Is there need for some pressure?

Mr. Kissinger: That’s an on-going problem, tell them we’ll discuss it in due time.

Mr. Cooper: You could say something about us discussing it. That should head-off any questions.

Mr. Kubisch: Do you want the working group to continue?

Mr. Kissinger: Absolutely!

Mr. Kubisch: You want it to operate out of the White House?

[Page 937]

Mr. Kissinger: That’s the usual way.

Mr. Kubisch: I’ll take the responsibility for getting everybody together.

Mr. Clements: Are we agreed on the previous items?

Mr. Kissinger: We’ve agreed that the military program will continue on a regular schedule.

Mr. Porter: What happened to the F–5 show?

Adm. Peet: It was cancelled—at their request.

Mr. Kissinger: Good!

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–94, WSAG Meeting, Chile, 9/20/73. Secret; Nodis. A copy was sent to Kennedy, Jorden, and Cooper. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Not attached and not found.
  3. September 21, 22, or 24.
  4. Dita Beard was an ITT lobbyist.