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

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  • Note to Cuban Government on Hijacking

In the memo at Tab A, Secretary Rogers asks your approval to present a draft memorandum of understanding on hijacking to the Cuban Government. Last November you authorized the Secretary to inform the Cuban Government that we would be prepared to enter into an agreement for the reciprocal return of hijackers (Tab C). Cuba replied to our initial approach by stating that it was disposed to work out an agreement. The Secretary is not very sanguine that an agreement is possible, and views the Cuban reply as more of an effort to return the ball to our court without committing Cuba. However, he recommends that we now forward a draft memorandum of understanding in an effort to pin down an agreement, because we should pursue the matter so long as there remains any hope of resolving this vexing problem.

Failure to follow up would give Castro the opportunity to say that the US is unwilling to settle this problem. If we reply with a concrete proposal we would demonstrate that we have gone to considerable and serious effort to deter hijacking; if we conclude an agreement, it would be to our advantage; if Castro backs away, we could charge Castro is insincere.

The text of the memorandum of understanding proposed by the Secretary is appended at Tab B. It states merely that each government will upon request return hijackers of planes or ships to the other, except that each government reserves the right not to return its own nationals or persons to whom it grants political asylum.

I agree with the Secretary’s arguments and recommend that you approve his recommendation.


That you approve the dispatch of the note and proposed memorandum of understanding on hijacking attached at Tab B.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 780, Country Files, Latin America, Cuba, Vol. II, 1970. Secret. Sent for action. President Nixon approved the recommendation on June 11. On June 12, Kissinger informed Rogers of the President’s authorization. Tabs A through C are attached but not published. Tab A is a May 15 memorandum from Rogers to the President. Tab B is an undated proposed memorandum of understanding between the United States and Cuba. And Tab C is a November 12, 1969, memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon containing a Presidential authorization to send the note. (Ibid.)
  2. Kissinger recommended that President Nixon approve a recommendation by Secretary of State Rogers to enter into an agreement with Cuba for the reciprocal return of hijackers.