76. Briefing Memorandum From the Legal Adviser (Stevenson) to Acting Secretary of State Irwin1 2


  • Hijacking US Initiative in the ICAO Council BRIEFING MEMORANDUM

You have agreed to meet today with the Ambassadors of France and the Federal Republic of Germany on the subject of hijacking. The United States has made a proposal in the ICAO Council for sanctions to be applied where States either detain passengers for blackmail purposes or fail to extradite or prosecute hijackers responsible for such actions.

We understand that France and the FRG are opposed to the US proposal because of their relations with the Near East. We have instructed our Ambassadors to countries represented on the ICAO Council to deliver a note (Tab B), if possible to the respective Foreign Ministers, urging support for the US proposal. You may wish to urge the French and FRG Ambassadors to impress upon their Governments the need for supporting the US proposal, drawing on the talking points at Tab A.

The Deputy Legal Adviser, Mr. John B. Rhinelander, and the Director of the Office of Aviation will be present during your meetings.

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Tab A


President Nixon is very seriously concerned with recent acts of hijacking which involve international blackmail. He has announced a 7-point program to deal immediately and effectively with the menace of air piracy. One of these points called on the international community to take joint action to suspend international airline services with States which either detain passengers for international blackmail purposes or fail to extradite or prosecute hijackers involved in such acts. Tomorrow a special meeting of the ICAO Council is meeting to consider a United States proposal to this effect. While we are making representations to all the countries represented on the ICAO Council, in view of the President’s concern we are making special representations to France (FRG) because that government is understood to oppose the United States proposal.
You may wish to express the hope that the Government of France (FRG) will respond favorably to this United States initiative despite possible difficulties that the proposal may cause all of us. The essential concern here is that hijacking for international blackmail purposes is such a serious danger to the safety and security of international civil aviation that it transcends other considerations. It is for this reason that President Nixon has suggested the severe remedy of economic sanctions. We would hope that due to these overriding circumstances, the Government of France (FRG) would lend its support.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, AV 12. No classification marking. Drafted by Meadows and cleared by Rhinelander and Hillenbrand. Attached but not published at Tab B was a proposed note.
  2. Stevenson prepared the briefing memorandum and the attached talking points in advance of Irwin’s meeting with the French and German Ambassadors to discuss the hijacking proposals made in the ICAO Council.