271. Memorandum From Serban Vallimarescu of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • Hijacking Agreement with Cuba

The U.S. and Cuba have reached agreement on the text of an agreement on hijacking. Attached for your information is a copy of the agreed text. (Tab A)

The most recent hijacking incidents involved hijackers of a clearly criminal nature, and the Cuban Government thereafter issued a statement indicating its willingness to enter negotiations with the U.S. on the air piracy problem. In response we indicated our willingness to hold talks through the Swiss Embassy in Havana but stressed that this represents no change in our overall policy toward Cuba. The first meeting between Cuban and Swiss officials was held in Havana November 25. The Cubans presented a draft agreement at that meeting. Subsequent meetings negotiated the text which has now been approved.

Previous attempts at negotiating an agreement with the Cubans on this problem foundered over Cuban insistence that any such agreement [Page 725] also cover the return of illegal exiles, including those already in the U.S., and the prohibition of any acts of piracy against Cuban territory by émigré groups. The approved proposal does deal with the Cuban concerns but rules out retroactive action, thereby protecting Cuban émigrés already in the U.S. It also provides for exemption from the provisions of the agreement for cases of political asylum. It covers the hijacking of both aircraft and vessels. In brief, the parties agree to:

—give serious consideration to extraditing hijackers instead of prosecuting them in the country in which they land;

—provide for the continued protection and ongoing travel of passengers, aircraft and the like which have been diverted;

—provide for the return of funds or property obtained illegally;

—try, in accordance with national laws, any person or group who conducts acts of piracy against the territory of the other country;

—hold open the possibility of granting political asylum in some cases where no financial extortion of physical injuries are involved.

The agreement is to be in force for five years and may be extended for an additional five years if both parties so agree. It may be terminated with six months written notice by either party.

The agreement will probably enter into force by means of an exchange of notes which would be handled through the Swiss and Czech Embassies in Havana and Washington respectively. Cuba is conducting talks on the hijacking problem also with Canada and Mexico.

  1. Summary: Vallimarescu informed Scowcroft that the United States and Cuba had reached an agreement on the handling of hijacking cases.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Box 780, Cuba, Vol. II. Confidential. Sent for information. Attached (Tab A) is the text of the U.S.-Cuba hijacking agreement, published with this memorandum as Document 142 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–1, Documents on Global Issues, 1969–1972. In airgram A–1746 to all diplomatic and consular posts, February 26, the Department transmitted the text of a February 15 note from Secretary of State Rogers to Czechoslovak Chargé Jaroslav Zantovsky that contained the agreement with the Cuban Government on hijacking. (National Archives, RG 59, ARA/CCA Files, Lot 78D189, POL 40 Costa Rica, 1973)