198. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Cuba—Message from Castro Suggesting a Desire for Detente

In the memorandum at Tab A, Secretary Rogers asks that you authorize him to ask the Swiss Ambassador in Havana, Alfred Fischli, to probe what Castro had in mind in sending us a recent message which seemed to indicate a desire for a detente.

You may recall that the Swiss Ambassador to Havana called on Secretary Rogers last month and reported that Castro had asked him to let us know that he was interested in establishing a discussion of current issues with us. Castro implied that he might be willing to reduce his support for revolutionary activities elsewhere in Latin America.

Castro may be motivated by the deteriorating economic situation in Cuba and the apparent reluctance of the Soviets to provide increased aid. The Cubans implied that the Russians did not know of their approach to us.

Secretary Rogers believes that a probe of what Castro has in mind would not commit us to any change of policy.

An NSC study of our Cuban policy is currently underway. My own feeling is that a cautious probe would not foreclose any options. In fact, putting out a feeler to Castro now would keep open the option of a dialogue, should you wish to use that approach at a later time.


That you authorize Secretary Rogers to ask the Swiss Ambassador in Havana to probe what Castro has in mind, but that he should not indicate any U.S. attitude.

See me

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 780, Country Files, Latin America, Cuba, Vol. I. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action. A notation in the upper right corner of the memorandum reads: “OBE.” Nixon wrote at the bottom of the memorandum below Kissinger’s recommendation: “A very, very cautious probe only, which I will be.” Attached but not published at Tab A is an April 3 memorandum from Rogers to Nixon. Attached to the memorandum is a typewritten note, which reads: “Back from the President. Please note that Presidential note does not seem to be completed.” An attached note in Haig’s handwriting reads: “Means keep me posted!”
  2. Kissinger informed President Nixon that Secretary of State Rogers had requested authorization to determine the meaning of a message from Castro, indicating a desire for détente with the United States.