136. Memorandum of Conversation1 2

[Page 1]


  • Ambassador Araujo Castro, of Brazil
  • Minister Celsa Diniz, Embassy of Brazil
  • Arnold Nachmanoff, NSC Staff


  • Fisheries Regulations

Mr. Nachmanoff stated that Dr. Kissinger had asked him to convey on a very confidential basis the following message on behalf of President Nixon:

1. Our Government will soon be asking the Brazilian Government to receive a special team to discuss the implications of implementation of the Brazilian Government’s new fishing regulations. The team will ask the Brazilian Government to consider delaying implementation of the new regulations for a few months, preferably until fall.

2. The Team will be personally designated by the President. This will be our formal request, handled through normal diplomatic channels. However, the President wants President Médici to know of his strong personal interest in this matter.

3. President Nixon values greatly our good relations with Brazil. He wishes to avoid any unnecessary conflicts with Brazil over the fisheries issue, and the complications they might cause for our relations.

4. President Nixon has great good will toward Brazil; his personal intervention with regard to the soluble coffee issue, despite strong pressures from the Congress and elsewhere, led to a mutually satisfactory solution of that problem.

5. With regard to the fisheries problem, the President needs more time to consider the very complex and serious question of our entire [Page 2] oceans policy. This is a very difficult issue because number of very important interests are involved, including strategic interests around the globe.

6. If a delay in implementation of the Brazilian fishing regulations can be worked out (perhaps for some administrative reasons) while we review these broad and complex issues, Dr. Kissinger and the President are confident that something satisfactory can be worked out with Brazil by the time of President Medici’s visit next fall.

7. We hope therefore that President Medici will give favorable consideration to our request and will be able to find a way which would give President Nixon more time to deal with this difficult problem.

Ambassador Araujo Castro indicated that he would report this message to Brazil immediately.

Minister Diniz inquired about the composition and travel plans of the team. Mr. Nachmanoff informed him that the team would consist of two members, John Stevenson (State Department, Legal Advisor) and John Warner, the Under Secretary of the Navy, and that they hoped to leave for Brazil Sunday evening. He cautioned, however, that the request would be made through normal channels and that the purpose of his call was to convey the President’s interest in this matter.

Ambassador Araujo Castro asked if the team would have authority to negotiate or discuss possible fisheries arrangements, or would it only explain the U.S. position and make its request. Mr. Nachmanoff stated that the team would not have authority to negotiate or discuss fisheries arrangements. Ambassador Araujo Castro stated it was his personal opinion that a U.S. team of this stature would certainly be received, but he wondered whether its presence might not actually make it more difficult for the Brazilian Government to work out this problem. He noted that the visit of these high level representatives would surely be connected with the fisheries problem and would be publicized. Since this is an emotional issue among the public in Brazil, the visit might be seen as pressure and hence make it more difficult for the Government to be flexible. The Ambassador made this point (twice during the discussion, [Page 3] though he stressed that this was an off-the-top-of-the-head personal judgment, and he certainly could not prejudge the response of his Government.

Mr. Nachmanoff inquired if it was the Ambassador’s judgment that it might be helpful to delay sending a team while we await a reaction to the Ambassador’s report of their conversation. The Ambassador noted that he could not guarantee that sending or not sending the team would influence his Government’s response one way or the other, and that this was really a matter for the U.S. Government to decide.

Minister Diniz expressed some surprise at the degree of U.S. concern about this problem. He noted that the U.S. economic interest in fisheries off the coast of Brazil was minor, and that Brazil certainly would not interfere with the U.S. security interest in free passage. Mr. Nachmanoff noted that he would leave the explanation of our concerns to the experts, but he could state frankly that our primary concerns involve strategic interests of a global nature. At the present moment, however, he was confident both sides wanted to prevent conflicts and the complications in our relations which could arise if U.S. boats are seized.

Ambassador Araujo Castro noted that differences between the U.S. and Brazil will naturally develop as relations between the two countries become increasingly activated. This activation of relations is the important thing; we must find ways to live with our differences.

Mr. Nachmanoff replied that this was precisely why President Nixon was conveying this message now. He wants to avoid unnecessary conflicts with Brazil while he works out a satisfactory way to “live with” our differences over this issue. But he needs some time.

Minister Diniz inquired if the U.S. position was that substantive discussions could not begin until after President Medici’s visit. Mr. Nachmanoff stated that we were confident that something could be worked out by the time of President Medici’s visit; he could not foresee precisely how it would be worked out at this point, but it was possible it could be worked out in preparation for the visit or during the visit.

The Ambassador again assured Mr. Nachmanoff that the confidential message he conveyed would be transmitted to the highest levels of his Government immediately.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 771, Country Files, Latin America, Brazil, Volume 2, September 1970–July 31, 1971. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting took place at Minister Diniz’ residence. On May 7, Kissinger notified the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Commerce that the President had decided to send a mission to Brazil to induce “the Government of Brazil to delay implementation of its fishing regulations from June 1 until next fall.” (Ibid.)
  2. Nachmanoff asked Ambassador Araujo Castro and Minister Celso Diniz if Brazil could delay implementing new fishing regulations.