22. Memorandum of Conversation1

Conversation between

  • President Ford
  • Foreign Minister Vignes
  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Ambassador Orfila

The meeting opened with an exchange of greetings and a press photo session.

President Ford thanked Foreign Minister Vignes for his cooperation and helpfulness about which Secretary Kissinger had informed him, and he asked that the Foreign Minister continue to work closely with the Secretary. The Foreign Minister said that he had supported a foreign policy for Argentina based on close relations with the U.S. since his days in law school.

The Foreign Minister explained to the President that we have been working to improve relations between the U.S. and Latin America since last April. The hope had been to let the situation mature to its culmination in March 1975, but the policy has been interrupted by the proposed resolution which three Latin American nations had introduced at the OAS meeting this week. The President and Foreign Minister Vignes agreed that neither wanted to see the matter progress too rapidly, and that more time would be helpful. Secretary Kissinger noted the close cooperation which existed between us. He assured the Foreign Minister that this would continue and that the United States would consult with Argentina before making any significant changes in its [Page 64]policy. The Foreign Minister praised our past and present cooperation and said he looked forward to continuing this cooperation in future phases of our policy.

On bilateral matters the Foreign Minister emphasized the need for action. He stressed the importance of the Trade Bill. The President assured him of the efforts which he was making in support of its passage. The Foreign Minister suggested that another field of cooperation might be the exchange of technology. Secretary Kissinger noted that our experts are meeting on the subject. He looked forward to the announcement of concrete results, perhaps when he visited Argentina next year.

Foreign Minister Vignes brought up the subject of selection of a new OAS Secretary-General. He said it appears likely that neither of the two present candidates could be elected with a large majority; therefore, it is necessary to get someone who has broad support. A third candidate might be from any country, even Argentina, he said, and the deputy should be an American. Secretary Kissinger explained that we would follow the consensus on the first vote but would hope that the winning candidate had a large majority.

On departure, Foreign Minister Vignes expressed his pleasure with the conversation and said he brought the best wishes of President Perón and the Argentine people. President Ford spoke of the United States’ warm friendship for Argentina and asked that his best wishes and those of the people of the United States be conveyed to President Perón. The Foreign Minister again thanked the President. He noted that Argentina was going through a series of crises which are more apparent than real. The Government, he said, has the support of 90 percent of the people. There is only a small group of terrorists.

  1. Summary: President Ford, Secretary Kissinger, and Foreign Minister Vignes discussed Cuba policy, U.S. trade legislation, the selection of a new OAS Secretary General, and the situation in Argentina.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 6, September 21, 1974, Ford, Kissinger, Argentine Foreign Minister Alberto Vignes. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. Handwritten notations modify the first part of the second sentence of the third paragraph so that it reads: “The hope had been to let the Cuban situation mature until the meeting [the Buenos Aires meeting of Western Hemisphere Foreign Ministers] in March 1975.” Sent to Scowcroft under a covering memorandum from Low describing it as “a summary of the Vignes conversation written in very general terms and with only elliptical references to subjects like Cuba.” The full memorandum of conversation is also attached to Low’s memorandum; during their discussion, Ford, Kissinger, and Vignes agreed to work together to postpone OAS action on Cuba until after U.S. elections in November and to coordinate a common approach thereafter. A memorandum of conversation of a September 21 meeting in which Kissinger briefed Ford in advance of this meeting with Vignes is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean, 1973–1976, Document 23.