481. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1 2

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  • Supplemental Talking Points for Your Meeting with President Echeverria on the Colorado River Salinity Problem

Late last night I met with the Mexican Foreign Minister Rabassa to discuss the salinity problem. We arrived at a general agreement along the lines of a memorandum I furnished you last night.

He emphasized that the President would make a strong plea this morning and I suggest you be guided by the following procedures:

  • 1) With respect to salinity, Echeverria will state his case. You should then reply.
  • 2) The issue is extremely complex, technically as well as politically.
  • 3) You are impressed by Echeverria’s presentation.
  • 4) To state your good will towards Mexico and your determination to move towards a difinitive solution and we are ready to take the following steps:
    • (a) take special measures that will lower the salinity of Colorado River water to the 1120–1150 ppm. range—within a week.
    • (b) select a well-known and capable person, in whom you have confidence (OR a small commission of such persons) to begin study of a long-range and definitive solution to this problem—using the full resources of this government.
    • (c) require this person (or Commission) to report back with firm recommendations to the President within a reasonable period of time.
    • (d) we will present to the Mexican Government before the end of your term our proposals for solving this problem once and for all.
  • 5) Our objective in this is to find a solution that any, reasonable and fair-minded person would regard as equitable and just.
  • 6) In light of the above, we trust the Mexicans will drop the demand for absolute parity on this matter. As Rabasa knows, farmers in Arizona don’t get the same quality water as those in Colorado. what we want—and what we are trying to find—is some way to narrow the gap between water on the two sides of the border to the maximum extent. We think we can do it.
  • 7) We also hope that in good faith—and in the interest of finding a permanent solution that will benefit us both—the Mexicans will not raise now the matter of damages for any past actions. We are willing to discuss this privately and confidentially with them through diplomatic or other channels.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 932, VIP Visits, Mexico: President Echeverría, 15 June 1972 [3 of 3]. Secret. Sent for action. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. Presidents Nixon and Echeverría discussed the salinity issue and illegal immigration again in a second conversation on June 16, 11:22 a.m.–12:26 p.m. The conversation is not published. (Ibid., White House Tapes, Conversation No. 737–4, Oval Office)
  2. Kissinger reported that he and Foreign Secretary Rabasa had come to a general agreement on steps to work toward a definitive solution to the Colorado River salinity issue.