129. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Matters Pending in OAS; Cyprus Issue; Costa Rican Meat Exports to the United States


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Wm. D. Rogers, Assistant Secretary, ARA
  • Terence A. Todman, Ambassador to Costa Rica
  • H.E. Gonzalo Facio, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica
  • H.E. Roberto Silva Vargas, Ambassador of Costa Rica
  • Mr. David Lazar, Director, Office of Central American Affairs

Foreign Minister Facio: “We are looking forward to Ambassador Todman’s arrival. I will go back to Costa Rica from New York on the 6th to be in San Jose for his arrival.

“We were sorry that the Buenos Aires meeting wasn’t held. We were opposed to the suspension of the dialogue with you.”

The Secretary: “Yes. From our point of view it was a pity. You were very helpful. As you know, we don’t need a dialogue, but we want to have it. But we can’t let the dialogue be used for purposes of blackmail.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “I have heard that you want to postpone the OAS General Assembly.”

The Secretary: “I am going to the Middle East. God knows how much time that will take. Then I want to take a trip to Latin America before the General Assembly.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “I have just come from lunch with the OAS Ambassadors. Contrary to what I had thought, most agreed to a post[Page 387]ponement of the General Assembly meeting. I would say that there was a consensus on that. I will move forward the meeting in San Jose on the Central American and Caribbean transport proposal which I think is very important. As you know, we don’t have a transportation company presently serving the area. So the 6th would be all right.”

The Secretary: “So, the General Assembly meeting will start on the 8th of May.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Yes.”

The Secretary: “I hope we can do away with the long opening speeches.”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “Yes. We’re working on that. The Panamanians favor eliminating the general debate.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “That’s good. I agree with that.”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “There could be at least one session off the record.”

The Secretary: “The Panamanian initiative is good. Let’s strike the sessions on general debate and concentrate on the issues.

Foreign Minister Facio: “I agree, but sometimes it is important or even necessary to have statements for the record. Perhaps this could be done by submission of written statements.

“I have been up here dealing with the question of meat import quotas for Costa Rica.”

The Secretary: “What is our position on meat quotas?”

Ambassador Todman: “Imports from Costa Rica last year were 60 million pounds. The proposed restraint level is 43. We hope to get this up.”

The Secretary: “You realize that now that I have been in this job for a year and a half, they don’t ask me what I want to do.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Our exports represent only .003 per cent of U.S. consumption, but to us this is a very important amount. On the other hand we understand your problem.”

The Secretary: “Who makes the decision?”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “There’s a very heavy bureaucratic involvement. We’re working on this with Tom Enders. Agriculture and other people also are involved.”

The Secretary: “I don’t think that with small countries we need to prove a point.”

Ambassador Silva: “Maybe countries with less than 1 per cent of the total import requirements of the United States shouldn’t need to operate under a quota.”

Ambassador Todman: “There is the Australian problem.”

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The Secretary: “There must be someone here over whom I have authority who makes these decisions. Can’t we do something about small suppliers? I just talked to Enders. We’ll do better.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Since I am going to be President of the Security Council in March, I wanted to ask you about Cyprus.”

The Secretary: “We want to keep the matter between the Turkish and Greek communities. We want to keep the Russians out, to put it crudely. The British and French will go along with us. The Chinese are willing to go along also; they share our objectives for their own reasons, but have to approach it in their own way.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “The Chinese, who have the chair now, postponed action and left the problem for me. I have been asked for a meeting on Saturday. Maybe I can postpone it to Monday, but not beyond.”

The Secretary: “Just take your lead from the principals.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “I received a cable from the Greeks this morning. They want support.”

The Secretary: “The Greeks and the Turks have a great ability to screw things up all by themselves. How would you say that in Spanish?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “What they need is time to negotiate this out for themselves.”

The Secretary: “Yes. That’s the best thing. I’ll tell Ambassador Scali and Buffum to stay in close touch with you.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Regarding the coming election for the Secretary General of the OAS. Last year when Sapena Pastor was gaining support, we didn’t want that. I pushed forward Gomez Berges, the Dominican, in order to stop Sapena. My real candidate has always been Orfila.”

The Secretary: “I like him. He is a nice man. Why should he want the job?”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “He knows the organization. He sincerely wants to help it. He also likes Washington. He has a farm in Virginia.”

The Secretary: “Does a house go with the job?”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “Yes.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Orfila knows the organization. He knows the operation. Maybe he can straighten out lots of things that need straightening out. The results of CECI seem to show that there is no real drive to change the organization.”

The Secretary: “Our technical position is that we won’t take a position for the time being.”

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Foreign Minister Facio: “I think you should take a position. Sometimes you are blamed for this but I think you should do it. Because if you don’t you will be blamed for not caring.”

The Secretary: “Who has the votes?”

Foreign Minister Facio: Argentina says it will back Sapena only on the first vote.”

The Secretary: “Is Gomez Berges still in the field?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Yes—he has nine votes. My plan is, I can talk to him in New York City on Monday and tell him to step out in favor of Orfila. Maybe I can tell him that he would take the second position.”

The Secretary: “Hasn’t that usually been a U.S. position?”

Assistant Secretary Rogers: “No, that’s the third position—the management job.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “The Secretary General should be elected unanimously.”

The Secretary: “After the first ballot, we’ll make our views known. Maybe even before that.

“Tell me about Cuba. Will it come up?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “We won’t raise it, but it may. Since it is agreed to reduce the Rio Treaty itself to a majority vote, we can apply that principle to Cuba. The method of operation that I would suggest would be to call a meeting of the Organ of Consultation during the General Assembly session and in that meeting to vote to reduce the vote needed to remove existing Cuba sanctions from two-thirds to a majority.”

The Secretary: “Would the actual vote on the sanctions question as it applies to Cuba also come up?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “No. We could throw that into the Permanent Council, this year or next year. They could vote. I won’t take the initiative on this.”

The Secretary: “Will someone else?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “I don’t know.”

Ambassador Silva: “Maybe Ecuador might.”

The Secretary: “What about the ‘new dialogue?’ Should we continue it? If so, where?”

Foreign Minister Facio: “Yes. I should think it ought to be in the same place, Argentina. Maybe in Bariloche instead of Buenos Aires.”

Ambassador Silva: “An idea was raised at the luncheon today. If the General Assembly is postponed until May, perhaps we should ask the Secretary to make a stop in Central America or the Caribbean on his trip to Latin America.”

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The Secretary: “Let me look into it. If I make one stop I’ll offend 14 other countries.”

Foreign Minister Facio: “We’d be very happy to receive you, but we won’t insist that your stop be in Costa Rica.”

The Secretary: “Let’s leave open the question of where else I might go.”

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Facio discussed inter-American relations, matters pending in the OAS and the United Nations, and Costa Rica’s interest in a more favorable meat quota.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Lot 78D217, Box 10, Nodis Memcons—February 1975. Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by Lazar and approved by Gompert on May 11. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office. After this meeting, Facio transmitted a memorandum laying out the Costa Rican case for a higher quota under the proposed U.S. voluntary restraint program for meat imports under a February 28 covering letter to Kissinger. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy File, P810026–0629) In telegram 59665 to San José, March 17, the Department transmitted Kissinger’s reply to Facio’s letter, in which the Secretary stated that the U.S. Government was considering modifications to its original proposal for import restraints. (Ibid., D750093–0288) In telegram 61201, March 19, the Department announced adjustments to its meat quota proposals, including a slight increase of Costa Rica’s quota to 52.2 million pounds. (Ibid., D750095–0414)