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

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  • El Salvador-Honduras Dispute

The dispute between El Salvador and Honduras has intensified and there is some danger of an eruption into armed conflict. The Foreign Ministers of the three other Central American nations—Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica—are trying to mediate the dispute. The Salvadoran Government is being intransigent, however, under the pressure of some hawkish young officers, and the mediators are having a hard time getting the two countries together.

A personal message from you to the Salvadoran and Honduran Presidents at the proper moment supporting the mediation efforts of the Central American Foreign Ministers would be extremely helpful and perhaps decisive. It would particularly strengthen the hand of the Salvadoran President vis-a-vis the hardliners in his military. I think it would be extremely important to be able to react on short notice if the need for such a personal message from you becomes evident.

President Lleras of Colombia has already sent such an appeal. He has sent you a cable suggesting that you too send a message. Lleras points out the importance of the inter-American system demonstrating its capacity to maintain peace. A translation of Lleras’ cable to you is attached at Tab B.


That you approve the sending of a message during the next few days along the lines of the draft at Tab A, when it appears opportune to do so.

Approve reply to Lleras at Tab A

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Honduras–Salvador Dispute. Confidential. Sent for action. On July 9, Kissinger initialed for Nixon his approval of the proposed message and a reply to President Lleras of Colombia. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is the proposed draft message to the presidents of El Salvador and Honduras. Tab B is President Lleras’s July 7 cable to Nixon. Also attached but not published is Nixon’s message, which was sent as telegram 922 to Bogotá, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, San José, Managua, and Guatemala, July 10. (Ibid.)
  2. Kissinger indicated that the Salvadoran-Honduran dispute might become an armed conflict. He recommended that President Nixon approve the sending of a personal message in support of Central American mediation efforts to the Presidents of both countries.