665. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Your Appointment with the Venezuelan Minister of Mines, Friday, February 27, Noon

You have agreed to see Dr. Hugo PEREZ La Salvia (pronounced Oo-go PEAR-es la Sahl-via), Minister of Mines of Venezuela and Personal Representative of President Caldera. Dr. Perez is visiting the United States to participate in bilateral consultation on petroleum. President Caldera asked that you receive him.

Dr. Perez has a graduate engineering degree from MIT, and was a visiting professor at MIT from 1964 to 1966. He speaks English well. A biographic sketch is attached at Tab B.

Dr. Perez will have had a substantive meeting on petroleum with Peter Flanigan just prior to his call on you. He understands that his meeting with you is not a substantive one. The oil question is so central to Venezuela’s concerns, however, that I do not think he can avoid referring in general terms to the vital importance of petroleum to Venezuela’s economic life and their consequent concern with our oil policy. If he does so, there is no need for you to enter into any substantive discussion of the issues. You could appropriately reply that you understand the importance of oil to Venezuela and you are sure that the current bilateral consultations will prove mutually beneficial to the interests of the two countries.

With regard to petroleum, Dr. Perez’ position is likely to be:

  • —Oil is Venezuela’s life blood; the US is its most important market (42% of its oil income is from exports to US).
  • —Venezuela fears this market is threatened because of more favored treatment of Canadian oil and the need to compete for a declining share of the market with low-cost Eastern Hemisphere suppliers.
  • —What Venezuela really wants is preferential treatment vis-a-vis Eastern Hemisphere suppliers in any future oil import policy and a greater appearance of equality with Canada and Mexico.
  • —It looks forward to the Cabinet Task Force review to achieve these goals, and has high hopes from your new partnership policy, with its emphasis on trade and consultation.
  • —It would like to have trilateral talks with the US and Canada to safeguard its North American Market.

Other points which you may wish to have in mind are:

  • You have approved a State visit by President Caldera, and this is tentatively blocked out for May 5 and 6. We are awaiting Caldera’s confirmation of these dates. You may wish to say that you look forward to receiving President Caldera.
  • We have not had an Ambassador in Venezuela since last July. You recall that John Hurd had been named, but his nomination was withdrawn when a potential conflict of interests appeared. President Caldera is beginning to believe that the delay in naming a new Ambassador is deliberate. Dr. Perez may bring this up. If he does, you may wish to say you expect to name a new Ambassador shortly.
  • Tension between Venezuela and Guyana is increasing over the territory in dispute between them as a result of recent border incidents between the armed forces of the two sides. Some of Venezuela’s military are inclined to be jingoist and believe Venezuela should just “take” the disputed territory. Guyana is afraid this will happen and is seeking defense in public accusations that Venezuela is instigating provocative incidents. I do not think you should bring this up, but should [Page 3] it arise you may wish to stress our hope that this dispute will be settled peacefully and that there will be no use of force whatsoever.

Talking Points are enclosed at Tab A.

A Background Paper prepared by State which you may wish to skim is attached at Tab C.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 796, Country Files, Latin America, Venezuela, Vol. 1, 1969–1971. Confidential. Sent for information. A note on the memorandum indicates it was returned to Kissinger on March 2. Tabs A, B, and C were not attached. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon met with Perez, Ambassador Julio Sosa, Meyer, and Flanigan, and members of the press from 12:22 p.m. to 12:35 p.m. on February 27. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary.) No other record of the conversation has been found.
  2. Kissinger provided a briefing memorandum covering the issues Venezuelan Minister of Mines Hugo Perez might bring up in a meeting with the President. The topics included petroleum exports, Caldera’s state visit, the U.S. Ambassador vacancy, and increased tensions between Venezuela and Guyana.