134. Memorandum of Meeting, Washington, December 14, 1970.1 2

[Page 1]

MEMORANDUM
THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON

MEMORANDUM OF MEETING

Held on Monday - December 14, 1970 at 2:30 p.m. in the President’s Office

PARTICIPANTS:
The President
Ambassador William Rountree, US Ambassador to Brazil
Arnold Nachmanoff, National Security Council Staff

SUBJECT: Brazil

The President stressed his strong desire to maintain close relations with the Government of Brazil. He noted that Brazil was the largest and most populous nation in Latin America. From the standpoint of the United States’ interests in the Hemisphere, our relations with Brazil and Argentina are most important. He recognized that some people were critical because the Brazilian Government was not constitutionally elected. He wished all the nations of the region had democratically elected governments, but that is just not the way things are; we must be realistic and deal with Governments as they are. He wanted to assure that the Brazilian Government and the Brazilian military do not get the impression that we are looking down our noses at them because of their form of government.

The President stated that he was planning to invite the Brazilian President to Washington, or possibly he might visit Brasilia. He indicated that he was thinking of a visit in the summer months, and that specific dates are being explored. He authorized the Ambassador to discuss this matter with President Médici.

Ambassador Rountree expressed his complete agreement with the President’s view of the importance of our relations with Brazil, and indicated it would be very helpful to be able to discuss the proposed visit when he returned to Brazil. The Ambassador stated [Page 2] that Brazil was a great asset for us in the Hemisphere, and he believed we should be able to maintain close relations with the Brazilian Government without necessarily embracing their form of government or condoning their internal actions. The President agreed.

Ambassador Rountree noted that Senator Church planned to hold hearings on Brazil early next year, which might cause some problems for our relations with Brazil. The President noted that the Senate had a perfect right to investigate whatever it wished, but that he wanted the Brazilian Government to understand there was a clear distinction between the Executive and Legislative branches in our Government.

The President inquired about road development in Brazil, commenting that he believed development of roads would have a great effect on opening up the interior for development. He asked Ambassador Rountree to make a recommendation to him if he felt that we could be helpful in this area.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 771, Country Files, Brazil, Volume 2, September 1970–31 July 31 1971. Confidential; Nodis. The conversation took place in the Oval Office. On a December 3 briefing memorandum from Kissinger, Nixon wrote: “K—I want a stepped up effort for closer relations with Brazil’s government—order Meyer to carry out (from RN).” (Ibid., Box 29, President’s Daily Briefing, Chronological File, December 1–15, 1970)
  2. President Nixon stated that, regarding U.S. relations with Latin America, close relations with Brazil and Argentina were the most important. Nixon wanted to make it clear to the Brazilian Government that the United States would not be judgmental regarding Brazil’s form of government.