142. Memorandum of Meeting, Washington, December 8, 1971, 5:15 p.m.1 2

[Page 1]


Held Wednesday, December 8, 1971 at Blair House 5:15 p.m.

Emilio Garrastazu Medici, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Mario Gibson Barbosa, Foreign Minister of Brazil
Joao Araujo Castro, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States
Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
Vernon Walters, Major General, US Army
Arnold Nachmanoff, National Security Council Staff

President Medici expressed his pleasure at the opportunity to talk with Dr. Kissinger. President Medici said that his trip to the United States would not have been complete if he had not had occasion to meet with and to hear the views of Dr. Kissinger of whom he had heard so much. In Brazil Dr. Kissinger was extremely well known. General Walters had talked to him about Dr. Kissinger.

Dr. Kissinger commented that General Walters is known as the honorary Consul General of Brazil. President Medici replied that he should be considered “honorary Ambassador”, and he hoped General Walters might be the US Ambassador to Brazil someday.

Dr. Kissinger noted that the President had been extremely pleased with his discussion with President Medici on December 7, and looked forward to continuing the frank discussion on Thursday, December 9. Dr. Kissinger said that the President felt it was important to establish close consultations and cooperation with Brazil, and he would discuss with President Medici Thursday a proposal for more direct communication between himself and President Medici.

[Page 2]

Ambassador Araujo Castro noted that President Medici would be interested in Dr. Kissinger’s views with regard to Communist China. He particularly wondered whether China’s admission to the United Nations would have a major impact on world issues and what kind of role Dr. Kissinger saw for China in its relations with the other super powers. Ambassador Castro also raised the question of China’s participation in the Disarmament Committee.

Dr. Kissinger stated his belief that the admission of China to the UN would, indeed, have an impact. It was his impression China’s strategy in the UN would be to attack both the United States and the Soviet Union as super powers. He noted, however, that this was their theory but that in practice they were finding that they could not pick their issues. He had the impression that the Chinese were discovering in the United Nations that they were more opposed to the Soviet Union than the United States on most issues. He added that this was in the context of the fact that we do not have one million troops on the Chinese border, as do the Soviets, and that the Soviet level of tolerance, for dissident communist views is low. Dr. Kissinger noted that, as Ambassador Castro knew, the Soviet Ambassador at the UN had a low boiling point. He concluded by noting that there are objective reasons why the Chinese will be in conflict with the Soviets, which have nothing to do with the position of the United States, which in fact is not doing anything to stimulate these conflicts.

Dr. Kissinger stated that it was his impression that the Chinese did not expect to enter the UN this year, and, therefore, were unprepared for it. They find themselves having to take positions on issues which they would just as soon not have to take a position on.. He did not think, for example, that it would be any favor to them to press for their admission to the Committee on Disarmament. If that evolved naturally, the US would have no objection to China’s participation.

Ambassador Castro expressed an interest in having Dr. Kissinger’s comments on how Latin America and Brazil fit into the global foreign policy concept of the United States. Dr. Kissinger commented that the Ambassador was a man who was interested in philosophy and that the Ambassador had frequently chided him for the absence of a conceptual approach to foreign policy, but that some of his domestic critics chided him with being too dogmatic. President Medici interjected that any [Page 3] disagreement between the US and Brazil should be considered a “lovers’ quarrel”. Dr. Kissinger agreed that any differences we have are “in the family” and that our fundamental relationship is of paramount importance. Dr. Kissinger noted that we now have a situation in the US where the old liberals are the new isolationists. However, the Executive is determined to take a responsible approach to world affairs, and is committed to maintaining a world role for the United States. The Administration’s room for maneuver is limited now, but Dr. Kissinger offered the opinion that the situation would improve after the next election.

In response to Ambassador Castro’s question, Dr. Kissinger stated that a major relationship with Latin America was fundamental to our foreign policy concept, and a particularly close relationship with Brazil was also fundamental. He noted that we have not been able to do as much with regard to Latin America as we would like to, because of various constraints, Congressional and bureaucratic. He felt this was a time when the United States particularly needs the advice and cooperation of the largest and most important nation in South America. In areas of mutual concern such as the situations in Uruguay and Bolivia, close cooperation and parallel approaches can be very helpful for our common objectives. He felt it was important for the US and Brazil to coordinate, so that Brazil does some things and we do others for the common good.

President Medici expressed his agreement with this approach and noted that it came as no surprise to him, since it was fully consistent with the discussion he had held with President Nixon on the previous day.

Dr. Kissinger commented that as Brazil plays a stronger leadership role, it may find itself in a position similar to that of the US -- respected and admired, but not liked.

Foreign Minister Gibson asked Dr. Kissinger about the future evolution of Taiwan. Dr. Kissinger noted that he had addressed the question of US policy toward Taiwan in a press conference a few days ago. Dr. Kissinger stated that the United States would maintain its defense commitment to Taiwan, noting, however, that the level of forces would not necessarily remain constant. We would not allow an old ally to be taken over by force. He suggested that the situation might resolve itself over a period of about 15 years.

President Medici again expressed his pleasure at the opportunity to talk with Dr. Kissinger.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 911, VIP Visits, Brazil. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held at the Blair House. Kissinger initialed Nachmanoff’s December 10 covering memorandum that recommended the memorandum of conversation receive “no dissemination outside your office.”
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger and members of the NSC Staff met with Médici, Gibson, and Castro. Their conversation focused on global implications of China’s admission to the United Nations, and the nature of Brazil’s place in “the global foreign policy concept of the United States.”