71. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, August 24, 1971.1 2

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SUBJECT: Argentine President Lanusse’s Request for Personal Representative from You to Discuss Financial Problems

Last Month, in response to Argentine President Lanusse’s request for a $500 million to $1 billion loan to help stem Argentina’s deteriorating economic situation, you approved a State/Treasury/OMB recommendation that we indicate that, while we wish to be helpful, we are unable by ourselves to provide funds in the magnitude requested, but we would be prepared to cooperate with the international financial agencies if Argentina works out a sound economic program with them. Although Lanusse seemed to accept our position, he made another approach [text not declassified] last weekend.

Lanusse feels that his economic situation is deteriorating seriously, and that he may have to seek help from Soviet bloc nations if he cannot get support elsewhere. He indicated that he would like to reopen dialogue with the US, but only with your personal representative. In view of your preoccupation without our own economic program, I authorized a response to President Lanusse on your behalf which indicated that you were prepared to send a personal representative to Buenos Aires who would be qualified to discuss possible solutions to Argentina’s economic problems and realistic ways in which the international agencies and we can be helpful. To avoid raising unrealistic expectations, however, we indicated that our basic position concerning this request for a $500 million loan remains the same (Tab B.)

President Lanusse has now responded that he would like to receive your personal envoy, preferable prior to September 1. We have explored this matter informally with State and Treasury, and there is general agreement that someone like Treasury Under Secretary Walter (who represented the US at the IDB Board of Governors’ meeting last spring in Buenos Aires) would be an appropriate person to carry out this mission.

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However, in view of recent demands on Treasury we should give Secretary Connally some flexibility in designating an appropriate representative. If you agree, I will send the memorandum at Tab A to Secretaries Connally and Rogers. Pete Peterson concurs.

I also think it would be very useful--if it can be arranged--to take the opportunity provided by the special representative’s trip to provide high-level briefings on our new economic program to a few of the key Latin American Governments such as Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico, as well as Argentina. This would be a reassuring and much appreciated gesture, and would demonstrate to those Governments that we are treating them as valued friends and allies. I have included this suggestion in the memorandum at Tab A.


That you authorize me to send the memorandum at Tab A to Secretaries Connally and Rogers.

Approve [Haig for HAK for Pres]

Tab A - Memo to State and Treasury
Tab B - Message to Lanusse

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 768, Country Files, Latin America, Argentina 1969–71. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action. The memorandum was approved by “Haig for HAK for Pres.” Written on the bottom of the second page, in an unknown hand, was, “8/24–Nachmanoff and Kennedy alerted.” Attached but not published is an August 14 memorandum with Lanusse’s request for assistance, which is discussed at the end of the first paragraph. Attached but not published is Tab A, an August 25 memorandum from Kissinger to the Secretaries of State and the Treasury informing them that the President had decided to send a personal representative to President Lanusse. Attached but not published at Tab B is an undated backchannel in which Nixon informed Lanusse he planned to send a personal representative to Argentina.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger informed President Nixon that President Lanusse would request assistance from the Soviet Union if the United States did not give assistance to Argentina. The Argentine leader also requested a personal representative from Nixon to travel to Argentina to discuss the country’s economic problems.