100. Telegram 82931 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Brazil1

82931. Subject: Conversations Between Secretary and Foreign Minister Silveira. For Ambassador Crimmins.

Summary: The Secretary met with Brazilian Foreign Minister da Silveira twice prior to the commencement of the Washington meeting of Foreign Ministers. At the first meeting on April 16 Ambassador Araujo Castro and Assistant Secretary Kubisch were present. At the [Page 280] second meeting the following day Brazilian Ambassador to the OAS Maciel was also present.

Both the Foreign Minister and the Secretary stressed the importance of close relations and frequent consultations on a broad range of issues. Although he expressed concern over the issue of countervailing duties on shoes, Silveira said he was satisfied with the results of Secretary Shultz’s recent visit. He urged the US not to take any further measures prejudicial to Brazil.

The Foreign Minister said the GOB would pay more attention to its relations with other Latin American countries and would try to harmonize its interests with theirs. He indicated that the GOB would be less rigid on the Cuba issue, but would not renew relations with Cuba for the time being.

Silveira said the PRC had indicated a desire for relations with Brazil, but that, although Brazil was interested in increasing trade with China, the establishment of relations would be a very gradual process. He indicated that Brazil would maintain a lower profile on the Portuguese-Africa issue and noted that Brazil’s Middle East policy was a function of its dependence on Arab petroleum suppliers.

The Foreign Minister said Brazil was opposed to the idea of inviting Cuba to the next MFM and would support US efforts to avoid having this issue considered at the Washington meeting. He said that the Argentine subsidiaries issue was between the US and Argentina and did not concern Brazil. Brazil expected US subsidiaries in Brazil to obey Brazilian laws, he added. Silveira said Brazil did not want the OAS to undergo major reform, only updating. He was wary of allowing OAS sanctions to be lifted by a simple majority vote. End summary.

1. Foreign Minister Silveira told the Secretary that President Geisel wants the best possible relations with the United States. Silveira added that the GOB believes that Brazil has a special relationship with the United States and he hoped the United States shared this belief. Silveira said that Brazil did not want praise from the United States because praise merely transfers responsibility without benefits. The Secretary replied that he understood that Brazil did not want formal praise or recognition from the United States. Later he added that he understood that in order for a Latin American country to be accepted in Latin America, it must express its independence from the US. The Secretary said that we consider Brazil to be the new country in Latin America, although our relations with Argentina and Mexico are also important. He said that our problem is how to reconcile the special position of Brazil with our need for good relations with the others.

2. The Secretary asked the Foreign Minister for his views on how the two countries could give expression to their special relationship. Silveira replied that the Secretary and he could have informal consulta[Page 281]tions every six months or so at alternate locations. When the Secretary asked how the US could meet with Brazil and not with other Latin American nations in view of Brazil’s reluctance to be publicly praised or singled out by the United States, Silveira said that Brazil could accept this kind of praise because it would consist of acts not merely words. The Secretary suggested that consultations could take place at all levels of government on a broad range of topics including issues being considered in international forums, such as population and LOS. At the April 17 meeting the Secretary said that he had spoken with the President who had confirmed our desire to have especially close relations with Brazil. He reiterated that these relations could be a de facto arrangement without publicity or special praise carried on by meetings between the Secretary and the Foreign Minister twice a year as well as by exchanges at other levels.

3. Silveira described the results of Secretary Shultz’s visit as very constructive as far as the GOB was concerned. He added that it is difficult, however, to explain to Brazilian public opinion the issue of the countervailing duty on shoes, especially why the United States is not applying the same regulations to Argentina, Italy, or Spain as it is to Brazil. He recognized that failure to make progress on this issue after January 16 was essentially Brazil’s fault, but he added that it was not the fault of the present administration and the US decision to announce the beginning of the formal investigation two days before the Geisel administration took office made the issue look like a challenge to the new administration. The Secretary replied that he understood the problem but that it would have been worse if the U.S. had announced its decision after the Geisel administration had taken office. Silveira agreed but said that it would have been better for the US to have made the announcement in January. He said that the GOB’s approach to this issue will be to try to be frank but avoid confrontations. It will seek to harmonize interests. At one point Silveira said the US should refrain from further measures prejudicial to Brazil. Then he reiterated the GOB’s satisfaction with Secretary Shultz’s visit. He said Shultz had agreed that the two countries should examine Brazil’s export incentive system together and that the problem should be discussed in the GATT.

4. Silveira stressed that Brazil must focus more attention on its relations with other Latin American nations and will try to be more creative in handling them. Brazil wants to harmonize its national interests with those of the other Latin American countries and is making progress in that regard. He cited the natural gas agreement with Bolivia as an example. Silveira expressed the belief that in Latin America Brazil can be useful not only to itself but also to the US and added that he hoped the US recognized this.

5. The Foreign Minister said that certain aspects of Brazilian foreign policy would be less rigid than in the past. He specifically said the [Page 282] GOB would not renew relations with Cuba for the time being, but indicated that the GOB’s approach would be somewhat more relaxed on this issue.

6. The Foreign Minister said that Brazil was improving its relations with the PRC. The Chinese Ambassador in Moscow had congratulated President Geisel on his inauguration and indicated that the PRC was interested in establishing diplomatic relations with Brazil. Silveira pointed out that China is Brazil’s second largest sugar customer and that Brazil was interested in developing that market. He said, however, that the establishment of relations with China would be a gradual process and that the GOB was not taking any final decision on this issue now.

7. Silveira confirmed that Brazil was gradually changing its position on the question of Portugal and Africa. He said the GOB wants to be realistic but not offensive. He said that the GOB will not try to mediate the differences between Portugal and African nations unless asked to do so specifically by both sides. Silveira noted that the GOB was not going to make any further mention of the concept of an African-Brazilian-Portuguese community.

8. Silveira noted that the basic factor in Brazil’s Middle East policy was that Brazil had to import about 700,000 barrels of petroleum a day and that most of this had to come from the Arab states.

9. The Secretary initiated discussion about the Foreign Ministers meeting. He suggested that the result of the conference should be the creation of working groups to consider three or four of the agenda items. He said that he felt frankly that it was a mistake to call such a meeting so soon after the Mexico meeting. He said that although the meeting did not have to be a success it was very important to avoid the impression of serious conflict or failure. In this regard he said it would be most unfortunate if the issue of Cuba, which a number of delegations, particularly Argentina and Mexico, wanted to raise, were to become the focal point of the meeting. Silveira said that Foreign Minister Vignes had told him that he did not want a confrontation over the Cuba issue at this meeting. He wanted merely to express his point of view. The Secretary replied that he had discussed the issue with Vignes and that the issue would be handled in the following fashion: Vignes would express his views, Mexican Foreign Minister Rabasa would suggest that Cuba be invited to the next meeting of Foreign Ministers and the Secretary would then propose that the host country for the next meeting consult with the others on the issue.

10. Silveira said that he would state Brazil’s opposition to inviting Cuba to the next meeting of Foreign Ministers. He added that the smaller countries were also opposed and the pressure on the issue seemed to have slackened. Initially, he said, Brazil would stick to the [Page 283] jurisdictional position. If there was little positive reaction to the positions expressed by Mexico and Argentina, Silveira added, there might be no need for the Secretary to speak to the issue. The Secretary agreed and said that he hoped that the issue could be removed from the meeting without a vote on it. He said he wanted to avoid a situation where the United States was standing alone against the Mexican suggestion.

11. The Secretary said that he understood that Buenos Aires would be the location of the next conference and that he perceived no reason not to have it there. Silveira rejoined that there were three reasons why the next meeting of Foreign Ministers should not be held in Buenos Aires. First, he said, Perón would turn it into a demagogic affair. Second, Perón would be able to pressure the small countries which are otherwise undecided on the Cuba issue. Third, security was a serious problem in Buenos Aires. The Secretary replied that Perón needed the support of the US and Brazil and they can prevent him from turning the meeting into a demagogic affair.

12. The Secretary raised the issue of the US subsidiary companies in Argentina. Silveira replied that the GOB had nothing to do with it. It was a problem between the United States and Argentina. He added that the GOB wanted American firms in Brazil to obey Brazilian laws.

13. On the question of restructuring the OAS Silveira said that the GOB wanted to update the OAS a little, but not to reform it. He specifically suggested that the economic rules be modernized and systematized and stated that the GOB needed US support to oppose the Peruvians on this issue.

14. The Secretary asked Silveira for his views on the idea that sanctions should continue to be voted by a two-thirds majority but could be lifted by a simple majority. Silveira said that this would have to be studied carefully to determine what all the implications would be. He stressed it should not be a public relations move and that we should not give anything away gratis unless it was absolutely necessary.

  1. Summary: Kissinger and Silveira discussed countervailing duties and Brazil’s foreign policy.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 772, Country Files, Latin America, Brazil, Vol. 4, 1973–1974. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Watson and cleared by Bowdler and Schwab. Silveira was in Washington for the Foreign Ministers meetings April 17–18. In telegram 75824 to Brasília, April 13, the Department transmitted to the Embassy a letter from Kissinger to Silveira in which Kissinger said he supported setting up working groups or preparatory commissions on science and technology, resources transfer, and possibly on problems of foreign investment. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840114–2591) In telegram 2533 from Brasília, April 15, Crimmins reported on his conversation with Silveira, in which they discussed Brazil’s regional policy, including relations with Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 772, Country Files, Latin America, Brazil, Vol. 4, 1973–1974)