449. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger), Washington, January 16, 1970.1 2

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January 16, 1970

FROM: Helmut Sonnenfeldt [HS initialed]
SUBJECT: Ambassador McBride’s Proposed US-Mexican-Canadian Summit Meeting

Pete Vaky’s memorandum of January 14 laid out Ambassador McBride’s suggestion that President Nixon host a tripartite meeting with President Diaz Ordaz and Prime Minister Trudeau. There seem to be several factors running against that suggestion.

-- Trudeau could not easily come to the US again until the President had made an official visit to Canada, and the President has decided that he does not wish to visit Canada in 1970. This is not just a question of state protocol; politically, Trudeau cannot afford even to appear to be running to the US at least until the President appears to have time for a Canadian visit.

-- The concept of the three heads of government discussing common problems is artificial. The 1953 meeting in White Sulphur Springs was generally considered to be a flop. (Is it possible that the Mexicans have been pulling the Ambassador’s leg?)

-- The Canadians would find nothing appealing in the meeting, especially since Diaz would be a lame duck president. The Canadians and Mexicans from time to time make noises about closer relations, but these have generally remained unfulfilled. (In late 1968 both governments agreed to hold joint ministerial sessions on the US-Canadian model, but no meeting has taken place.)

In short, this does not appear to be a fruitful idea, at least until after the President has visited Canada. Even after that there would have to be a very good prospect of some solid accomplishments at the meeting before serious consideration is given to recommending it. This would argue for prior bilateral consultations in which it is not clear that we and the Canadians could find anything to agree on.

cc: Mr. Vaky

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 787, Country Files, Latin America, Mexico, Vol. II, January 1, 1970–December 31, 1971. Confidential. Sent for information. A copy was sent to Vaky. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that Kissinger saw it on January 21. Vaky’s January 14 memorandum to Kissinger summarized this cable and asked if Kissinger wanted to draft a recommendation to the President or ask for State’s recommendation. Kissinger chose the latter option on January 21. (Ibid.)
  2. Responding to Ambassador McBride’s recommendation for a tripartite meeting (Canada, Mexico, and the United States), Sonnenfeldt listed several factors running against that suggestion.