291. Telegram 279669 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

279669. Subject: Letter from Secretary Kissinger to Foreign Minister Vignes.

1. Please pass the following message from Secretary Kissinger to Foreign Minister Vignes:

2. Begin text. Dear Mr. Minister: I greatly appreciate your thoughtful letter on the Buenos Aires meeting. Bill Rogers has told me of his subsequent meeting with you in Lima on that subject. It is obvious that we are in agreement that the meeting can and must be a success. You may rely on my cooperation to that end.

3. We are also evidently of the same mind on the need to treat the Cuba matter during informal discussions in closed meetings at Buenos Aires, as you rightly put it. I am prepared to participate in the airing of the problem in that way.

4. The actual participation of Cuba’s Foreign Minister is a more difficult matter. The results of Quito were a reminder that several nations of the hemisphere feel that they still do not have adequate assurances as to Cuba’s behavior. Furthermore, as I reflect on the substantive topics which might be on the agenda for the Buenos Aires meeting, it is difficult for me to see how Cuba would be able to make a constructive contribution. Cuba’s position on the Organization of American States is well known. Its views on transnational enterprises and the transfer of science and technology are not likely to be helpful. I should think, therefore, that Cuba’s presence would be at best largely symbolic, at worst potentially divisive. I gather from Bill Rogers that Foreign Minister Roa’s deportment in Lima last week did not provide much evi[Page 784]dence that Cuba would be willing to play a respectful role in sessions like ours.

5. As long as this is the case, I am inclined to think it would be best for the success of our deliberations on the future of the hemisphere at Buenos Aires if we could discuss the Cuban matter frankly among ourselves, but without Roa. We could examine whether it is unreasonable for other countries to expect some demonstration from Havana that it does not and will not support guerrilla and terrorist insurgent movements. And we could then determine whether there is a generally felt need that Cuba should be prepared to pledge its respect to all countries and governments represented, as you so clearly put it, not merely at meetings such as those in Buenos Aires but thereafter, and to make its actions consistent with that pledge.

6. The foregoing does not, of course, reflect any intention to impose a particular point of view. If there were to be a genuine consensus among my colleagues that Cuba should be represented at Buenos Aires, we would be prepared to reconsider our own position. I assume at this point that such a consensus is not likely to develop in the absence of public assurances from Havana that Cuba intends to conduct itself, both in the meeting and beyond, as a responsible member of the inter-American community.

7. I would welcome your further thoughts on this issue.

8. And I have taken note of your decision to create a working group in Washington on the Buenos Aires meeting. Bill Rogers will stay in close touch with your Washington Embassy. Warmest regards, Henry A. Kissinger. End text.

  1. Summary: This telegram contained a letter from Kissinger to Argentine Foreign Minister Vignes expressing concern over the possibility of Cuban participation in the Buenos Aires meeting of Western Hemisphere Foreign Ministers scheduled for March.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File D740371–0671. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Rogers and approved by the Secretary. Vignes’s November 25 letter to Kissinger was transmitted to the Embassy in Buenos Aires in telegram 265812, December 4. (Ibid., D740351–0459) Kissinger’s letter was delivered to Vignes on December 26. (Telegram 9274 from Buenos Aires, December 26; ibid., D740375–0251) In telegram 9105 from Buenos Aires, December 17, the Embassy informed the Department of Argentina’s views on Cuban participation at the MFM. (Ibid., D740367–0437) On January 3, 1975, in a meeting with Kissinger, Orfila conveyed Vignes’s response to Kissinger’s letter. Orfila stated that Argentina did not want the Cubans to attend the MFM, but noted that if Cuba was not invited it would entail domestic political costs. (Telegram 1966 to Buenos Aires, January 6, 1975; ibid., D750004–0798) The MFM was later postponed indefinitely as a result of Latin American objections to the Trade Act of 1974. (See Document 28.)