122. Memorandum from the President’s Assistant For National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1 2
- Aircraft Hijacking
Secretary Rogers has submitted the attached memorandum describing the steps the State Department is taking to deal with the problem of aircraft hijacking.
We seem to be making progress in obtaining Cuban Government cooperation in two areas:
- They have indicated their willingness to accept limited numbers of Cubans who wish to return to Cuba from the US.
- They are willing to permit passengers to return to the US on the hijacked plane if the crew, airlines, and US authorities will accept full responsibility. (The passengers of a hijacked Colombian plane were permitted to return on the same plane yesterday, after the Colombian authorities assumed responsibility for their safety).
However, it is probably going to be difficult to reach agreement with the Cubans on the one step that might have some deterrent effect, i.e., returning hijackers of commercial aircraft to the country of aircraft registry to face criminal prosecution. The Cubans have said they do not consider it possible to undertake a bilateral agreement “under present circumstances”, and Castro recently has implied that Cuban measures to return hijackers may depend on our actions to prevent Cubans from departing Cuba illegally via the Guantanamo Naval Base.
I think you should be aware of one historical aspect of this problem which may prove embarrassing to us. In 1961, when there were several cases of ships and planes seized by Cubans escaping to the United States, we did not respond to a Cuban note proposing a mutual agreement to return the persons responsible for those actions to the country of registry of the ship or plane. In effect, we refused to consider essentially the same proposal we have now made to the Cubans.[Page 2]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 780, Country Files, Latin America, Cuba, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for information.↩
- Kissinger summarized and commented upon an attached memorandum from Secretary of State Rogers to the President that noted the potential dangers from the growing number of airline hijackings to Cuba. Rogers informed the President of U.S. diplomatic efforts to prevent hijacking to Cuba.↩