311. Telegram 2769 From the Embassy in Ecuador to the Department of State1 2

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  • Fisheries Problem and the FMS Suspension

1. It is now more than a month since the Ecuadorean Ambassador in Washington proposed to Assistant Secretary Meyer, and FonMin Ponce confirmed to me in Quito, a proposal to break out of our present “vicious circule” on the fishing dispute (see Deptel 98497 and Quito 2385).

2. For more than three weeks now we have had a specific workable scenario (Quito 2482).

3. The proffered resolution of the fishing issue would lead to quadripartite negotiations in the autumn. By this time, the issues in NSSM 125 would have been resolved, and the July–August meeting in Geneva would have been completed. If by autumn we are still not ready for meaningful negotiations, we could ask for postponement. It is the fact of negotiations in the offing which is most likely to continue to keep things quiet in the southeast Pacific.

4. As reported in Quito’s 2482, the Ecuadoreans are evidencing a new-found flexibility on LOS. Reports from Embassy Lima, and from Peruvian Embassy here, confirm that the Peruvians are thinking along the same flexible lines. It would appear to me to be greatly to our advantage, in view of our LOS problems elsewhere, to create the opportunity to negotiate with the CEP countries in their present frame of mind. Negotiations cannot be arranged without [Page 2] lifting suspension for Ecuador.

5. FonMin Ponce made it to Brazil and back without compromising the flexibility in the Ecuadorean position.

6. Since his return to Quito, Ponce has twice pressed me, as recently as today, regarding moving ahead with the scenario described in Quito’s 2482.

7. Ponce has his reasons to press me. The Ecuadorean offer is not without domestic political dangers to the GOE. In fact, the GOE offer closely resembles a secret arrangement which, when finally revealed in 1966, was one of the causes of the fall of the then Government of Ecuador.

8. My guess is Ponce is trying to tell me that the GOE offer cannot be open-ended as regards time. Until and unless we accept it, and raise the FMS suspension, the GOE feels dangerously exposed.

9. We must also take into consideration that to accept the GOE offer, or failure to accept it in time, could result in the disappearance of budding flexibility in the Ecuadorean position on LOS.

10. We have, of course, other problems with Ecuador, but there is no connection between them and our lifting the FMS suspension to implement the fishing package. The fishing issue is a separate and serious problem which has plagued us for 20 years. We should take the opportunity now to move forward on the GOE proposal on its own merits, which, in my opinion, gives us the best of the bargain. Solution of this problem could, though of course not necessarily will, have beneficial side effect of making easier the solution of some of our other problems.

11. I urge that we move with further delay to implement scenario set forth in Quito’s 2482.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33–4 ECUADOR–US. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Lima. Telegram 2482 from Quito, June 15, is referenced in Document 310, footnote 1. NSSM 125 is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–1, Documents on Global Issues, 1969–1972, Document 390.
  2. Ambassador Burns discussed the progress on the impasse over fishing. He argued that lifting the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) ban on Ecuador could lead to four-party talks among Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and the United States to resolve the fishing dispute.