219. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Kissinger Meeting with President-elect Carter, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (followed by approximately 45 minutes alone with Mr. Carter), November 20, 1976


  • President-elect Carter
  • Vice President-elect Mondale
  • David Aaron
  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Lawrence Eagleburger

The following is a brief listing of issues discussed:

1. Rhodesia: A brief description of the current state of the negotiations, with emphasis on the centrality of the British role in the current Geneva talks.

2. Panama: A brief description of the issues that have been resolved, and the issues yet to be resolved. The Secretary described our commitment to consultations with appropriate members and committees of the Congress once the USG has worked out the contents of the treaty with the Panamanians. He emphasized that nothing has as “yet been put on paper” and that our commitment to consult presumes that this will take place before the specific language of the treaty is committed to paper.

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3. Mexico and Latin America: The Secretary described the improvement in relations with the US that could be expected when Lopez Portillo becomes President, the current state of the Mexican economy, and reviewed briefly US relations with Latin America.

4. SALT: The Secretary reviewed the history of the SALT negotiations from Vladivostok to the present, and the background to the backfire and cruise missile issues.

5. Comprehensive Test Ban: The President-elect mentioned Gromyko’s recent initiative in the UN and the Secretary then discussed its meaning and the nuances of differences between the most recent Gromyko proposal and previous Soviet proposals.

6. PRC: The President-elect asked whether we had approached the Chinese about their atmospheric nuclear testing; the Secretary replied that we had only done so elliptically and gave the reasons for this cautious approach. The Secretary then talked at greater length about USPRC relations, the USPRCUSSR triangle, and the future of Taiwan.

7. Korea: The President-elect asked if the present Korean regime was really as bad as it seemed. The Secretary discussed our relations with Korea over the past several years, our efforts to influence the Korean government’s attitude toward political liberties, and our concern over the instabilities that could be created if we pushed the Park government too hard. In answer to a Carter question, the Secretary said that the PRC publicly calls for the withdrawal of American forces from Korea, but privately indicates that this process of withdrawal could take some time.

8. Japan: The President-elect asked what the Secretary thought about an increase in the level of Japan’s “defense capability.” The Secretary talked about the history of Japan, including its rapid move from feudalism to emperor worship following Commodore Perry’s arrival in Japan,2 and the rapid move from an imperial structure to democracy following its defeat in World War II. The Secretary said that the issue now was how Japan would use its improved military strength should it develop it and indicated that he did not believe it would be wise for the US to push the Japanese to a greatly expanded military establishment.

9. Non-Proliferation: The President-elect asked about the French-Pakistan and FRG-Brazilian deals. The Secretary described the quiet work we have done with the French and the current state of French thinking on the issue. He also talked about the discussion he had had with Prime Minister Bhutto in Pakistan and promised to pull together [Page 738] for the President-elect a report on what we had offered to do for Pakistan if it would withdraw from the nuclear deal with the French.

10. National Security Council: President-elect asked about the National Security Council structure and the Secretary described it to him briefly. There was some discussion about the NSC staff, the role of the National Security adviser and the impact of the NSC system on the decisionmaking process. The subject came up again at lunch and the Secretary talked about the need for a President to be presented with options and choices. There was also some discussion at lunch about the utility of combining the job of Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. The Secretary discussed the pros and cons of such an arrangement.

11. The UK: There was some discussion of the current economic situation in Great Britain, the Lever mission to the US, the IMF, and the role of Treasury, Arthur Burns, and State in the current negotiations.

12. NATO: The President-elect asked whether it would be useful for him to send a message to the next NATO Ministerial meeting through Secretary Kissinger. The Secretary said that this would be useful and it was agreed that Aaron will work out a text and give it to Eagleburger for review.

13. Cyprus: Secretary Kissinger described the development of the Cyprus crisis from the time of the Makarios overthrow, emphasizing the difficulties inherent in the fact that the crisis occurred at the time of the demise of President Nixon, our efforts with the Greeks and Turks, the development of the situation in Cyprus itself, our failure to “dominate” the crisis and the current state of the Cyprus Principles. The Secretary said that he thought it best that the US not now push the Principles, leaving that to the new Administration.

14. OPEC and Iran: The Secretary discussed the OPEC meeting and pointed out that while the Shah may be in the forefront of calling for increased petroleum prices, Iran can have little impact on those prices, while Saudi Arabia is the key factor. Iranian production is now at eight million barrels a day; its maximum production capability is nine million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia on the other hand has far greater flexibility between current production and maximum production, which means that Saudi Arabia, by substantially increasing production, can force a reduction in the price of oil.

15. Appointments: The President-elect said that he owed no one a debt and therefore could appoint “the best” people to our embassies. He wondered whether Secretary’s Rusk’s comment that an appropriate split was 70% career and 30% noncareer was a good one. The Secretary replied that he thought this or something like it was a good mix.

16. Cuba and the Caribbean: The President-elect asked about Cuban activities in Trinidad, Jamaica, etc. The Secretary responded by describing his concern that the Cubans will now attempt to play on the [Page 739] black communities throughout the Caribbean. He indicated that this is, as well, the concern of the President of Colombia. The President-elect asked about Prime Minister Manley of Jamaica3 and the Secretary responded with his views on the gentleman.

17. Viet-Nam and the MIAs: The President-elect asked for the Secretary’s views of a proposal that the US send a commission to Hanoi to seek information on the MIAs. The Secretary indicated that he thought this was unwise and warned that while the Vietnamese may have information on a few hundred MIAs, it is very doubtful that they will have information on the 2,500 so often referred to in the US. He indicated that in general he felt the process of normalization with Hanoi was possible in the course of the next year if the US showed no anxiety about it. If Hanoi believes we are anxious for an improvement in relations, they are likely to demand a high price.

18. Middle East: The Secretary concluded with a broad discussion of the state of play in the Middle East, including a discussion of Sadat, Asad, the role of Jordan and King Hussein, Syrian-PLO-Israeli activities in Lebanon, the possibility that Sadat will turn back toward the Soviets, and the Geneva Conference.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 329, Department of State, Carter, Jimmy Transition Papers, Meeting, 20 Nov. 1976, Chronological File, November 1976. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Eagleburger.
  2. A reference to the 1854 arrival in Japan of a U.S. naval flotilla under the command of Commodore Matthew C. Perry.
  3. Michael Manley, Jamaican Prime Minister, 1972–1980.