15. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger 1

K: Mr. President.

N: Yes, hi.

K: I’m sorry to disturb you. We have one matter with this Latin American meeting and the one that’s happening at the OAS. As you know, there are a number of American subsidiaries in Argentina and the Argentines have passed a law according to which if they don’t sell to Cuba they’re going to be nationalized.

N: I see.

K: And you had already approved in February that under those conditions we can make a special exception and we can’t really take the position that American companies in Argentina cannot obey Argentine law. If you had approved that and I held up the implementation of it because the Brazilian government at that time was changing and they had some doubts about it, now the Brazilian Government has come to us and have indicated that they favor our going ahead and if we could go ahead within the next day on this then Argentina would not introduce a resolution in Atlanta which would have the effect of lifting the sanctions altogether throughout the Western Hemisphere.

N: It’s a dead loser as far as anything here is concerned to indicate any backing down in regard to it will raise a hell of a storm.

K: Well, we’re not backing down with Cuba. The position we’re taking—we’re not lifting any. . . .

N: Well just don’t make any announcement on it, just do it.

K: OK.

N: Just do it very very very quietly. Don’t make a big thing out of it.

[Page 49]

K: No, we wouldn’t announce it, we’d just let the Argentines do it in a low key way.

N: Alright, fine. OK, Henry.

K: Right, Mr. President.

  1. Summary: Nixon asked Kissinger to implement, in a low-key way, the licensing of U.S. firms in Argentina selling goods to Cuba.

    Source: Department of State, FOIA Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts. Unclassified. Nixon’s decision to authorize sales to Cuba by U.S. firms in Argentina is recorded in Document 12. In a February 20 meeting with Vignes, Kissinger stated that U.S.-Cuban relations must be “kept apart” from overall hemispheric relations, “otherwise both problems would be more difficult to solve.” (Telegram 1632 from Mexico, February 22; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) In a February 22 memorandum to the President, Scowcroft stated that Kissinger had reported from the Tlatelolco Conference of Foreign Ministers in Mexico City that “Argentina is moving in our direction on every issue but Cuba; on that one we will continue to have trouble.” (Memorandum from Scowcroft to Nixon, February 22; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Scowcroft Daily Work Files, 1974–1977, Box 6, 2/19–28/74)