292. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

Kissinger: On Cuba, there is a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in March. The Argentines want to invite Cuba. I think we should oppose. Instead I think we should agree there that the lifting of the OAS embargo can be done by a majority. If there is no movement in the OAS, more and more of them will recognize Cuba individually and the OAS will look ridiculous.

Secondly, Cuba has sent us a message through Frank Mankiewicz that they want to talk—through a New York emissary. I thought we could say we are willing to listen. This will get a slow-paced dialogue started. Right now we have no means to communicate with them. We should stay a half step behind Brazil. We shouldn’t push Brazil and we should support our friends who backed us.

The President: What would be the settlement down the road?

Kissinger: I am not sure you want to restore relations before the 1976 elections. I think we should tell them to pipe down in the press. They had cartoons with Nixon’s name written with a swastika. We may have to permit American companies in third countries to trade with Cuba. We will have to try to get something from Cuba—release of prisoners, settle some claims, open emigration—something. We can keep them out of the meetings in 1975.

The President: If we could get an ease of emigration and some claims settled . . .

[Page 786]

Kissinger: Maybe a statement of non-intervention. Castro wants to meet with me. I am opposed to doing that.

The President: I agree. Let’s talk about those three things.

Kissinger: This week we will send a note to them saying we are willing to explore what do they have in mind. This will test their security.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cuba.]

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Ford discussed the possibility of establishing a slow-paced dialogue with Cuba.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 8, FordKissinger 1/7/75. Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original except those indicating text omitted by the editors. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. Eagleburger met with Cuban officials Ramón Sánchez Parodi and Nestor García at LaGuardia Airport in New York on January 11 after Sánchez Parodi requested an appointment through Frank Mankiewicz, a freelance journalist who had carried messages between Kissinger and Castro during the summer of 1974. (Kissinger, Years of Renewal, pp. 773–779)