664. Memorandum From the President’s Senior Military Assistant (Haig) to the President’s Assistant for International Economic Affairs (Flanigan)1 2

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  • Minister of Mines from Venezuela to Meet with the President

In Henry’s absence, I just wanted to confirm that the President has agreed to see the Venezuelan Minister of Mines for 10 minutes at Noon on February 27th. Chapin informs me that he should see you prior to that time for whatever substantive discussions he will have in the White House and that the meeting with the President will be purely protocol.

We, of course, are very much aware of the sensitivity of the oil issue and the precedent this meeting could set. However, the problem with the Minister of Mines goes way beyond the oil issue in that he is a personal representative of the President of Venezuela, whose mission involves issues far beyond the oil problem. Frankly, we had been placed unofficially on notice that if the President had not seen Perez a major international affront would have occurred with the most serious repercussions to overall U.S.-Venezuelan relations. Because of this fact and not as a result of a lack of appreciation for the valid points you made with respect to the oil issue, it was decided to go ahead with the meeting, being sure that the President’s discussions with the Minister remain non-substantive.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 796, Country Files, Latin America, Venezuela, Vol. 1, 1969–1971. Confidential.
  2. Haig wrote to confirm President Nixon’s meeting with Venezuelan Minister of Mines Hugo Perez, informing Flanigan that if the President declined to meet with Perez, who was a personal friend of President Caldera’s, it was likely to have serious consequences for U.S. relations with Venezuela.