394. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • The Department’s Suggested Reply to a Note from the Haitian Ambassador Requesting an Appointment with the President.

Enclosed for your approval is the suggested text of the Department’s reply to the Haitian Ambassador’s note of June 30, renewing his request to see the President. The suggested reply informs the Ambassador that we cannot say how soon the President will be able to receive him but that the Department is ready to assist him in any matter not requiring the President’s personal attention.

In March 1969, and again in June 1969, Ambassador Bonhomme requested interviews with President Nixon. In March, he had a “personal and highly confidential message“from President Duvalier concerning a “serious and urgent situation”. He categorically refused to deliver the message either to Under Secretary Johnson or to you. In June, in the aftermath of a Haitian exile bombing raid, he invoked the issue of reciprocal access by Ambassadors to Chiefs of State. On both occasions it was determined that President Nixon would not be able to grant an interview and in July 1969, the Secretary sent a courteous though temporizing note to Ambassador Bonhomme to this effect.

On this occasion Bonhomme has based his request for a meeting with President Nixon on “the urgency and gravity of certain current circumstances”. The circumstances to which he refers are the alleged plans of a group of Haitian exiles to invade Haiti. Bonhomme has been in frequent contact with the Office of Caribbean Affairs on this subject and his statements have been passed along to relevant investigative branches of the U.S. Government to determine if any U.S. laws are being violated by these exiles.

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We do not believe any important interest would be served by granting Ambassador Bonhomme an interview with President Nixon at this time. However, from the standpoint of our relations with Haiti, another courteous temporizing reply would be useful.

Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 785, Country Files, Latin America, Haiti, Vol. I. Confidential. Attached but not published are the Department of State’s suggested reply and the Haitian note of June 30.
  2. Haitian Ambassador Bonhomme requested an interview with President Nixon to discuss Haitian exile attacks. Bonhomme had repeatedly requested such meetings, but his request had been refused each time. Executive Secretary Eliot recommended against granting the interview, arguing that “We do not believe any important interest would be served.”