3. Telegram 106611 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

106611. Subject: Secvisit LA: Secretary’s Meeting With President Campora, May 26, 1973, 5:00 PM, President Campora’s Office.

1. Participants:

The President of Argentina

Foreign Minister Puig

Jorge Mendez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in room as standby interpreter)

Secretary of State, William P. Rogers

Jack B. Kubisch, Assistant Secretary-Designate for Inter-American Affairs

Neil Seidenman, Interpreter

2. The Secretary began by saying he knew President Campora was in a very busy period and that he did not want to take too much of the President’s time so soon after his inauguration.

3. President Campora said that in meetings like these, no time was ever lost, only time gained.

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4. Secretary Rogers then delivered a letter from President Nixon to President Campora, adding that there was no objection to publishing the letter if President Campora wished.

5. President Campora said that he would be glad to make it public if such were President Nixon’s desire. The Secretary indicated that this would be entirely up to President Campora.

6. President Campora then asked the Secretary what impressions he had gained from his trip which, President Campora added, he hoped was being fruitful.

7. The Secretary thanked the President for his good wishes. Before replying to the President’s query, the Secretary said he wished to state that he recognized the tremendous tasks which lay before the President of a great country such as Argentina, and he wished to convey to the President his congratulations and best wishes.

8. President Campora replied that he felt honored by the Secretary’s congratulations, adding that he would feel even more honored when the problems that faced him as President were one day surmounted.

9. The Secretary went on to say that he considered his trip throughout Latin America to be a successful one. It was clear to him that in Latin America and particularly in Argentina there was a feeling of nationalism, a feeling on the part of the individual countries that they wished to do things for themselves and not to be dependent upon other countries.

10. Campora remarked that he agreed with the Secretary’s assessment. The feeling, in point of fact, had been running for many years, but “obstacles” had repeatedly arisen to prevent full realization of the peoples’ desire. Now the feeling was taking on growing significance throughout the hemisphere.

11. The Secretary commented that this was of special interest to him. He said that in his travels to all parts of the world he had observed that nations that had grown and progressed possessed a tremendous drive of their own to do so. Much had been said of “ideological pluralism.” This was a natural thing because there were no two governments exactly alike in the world.

12. President Campora remarked that the important thing was that differences should not prevail among the peoples of the world.

13. Secretary Rogers then observed that even with differences, governments could have good relations.

14. President Campora assured the Secretary that such was the desire of the Argentine nation of which he had the honor to serve as Chief Executive. Argentina’s desire was to have a mutual understanding with all of the countries of the world. However, international relations should also be shaped by a desire to reduce the gross dispari [Page 6] ties between countries. The President went on to say that in his view the Argentina of today, following a difficult period of institution building, had need of all the other countries of the world without exception. But it was also true that the rest of the world needed Argentina. He stressed that the need for reciprocity was essential, in spiritual as well as non-spiritual matters.

15. The Secretary responded that such was also the wish of the U.S. He hoped that it would be possible to bring about an improved climate in the hemisphere because while countries had differences, if these differences could be discussed in a friendly way, solutions could surely be found. On the other hand, if there were consistent confrontation, solutions would be harder to find.

16. President Campora stated that in his administration, there would be no inclination to accentuate differences. It would rather be to achieve convergence—a meeting of minds. But within this posture, his government would be consistently mindful of its mandate to achieve understanding with all governments on the basis of the reciprocity that every nation deserves. To achieve harmony on this basis, he said, would be the guiding light of the government over which he had the honor to preside. On the other hand, what Argentina could not accept, would be for outside interests (“terceras posiciones”) to upset relationships between Argentina and other countries of the world.

17. The Secretary said that such had been our policy for many other countries in the world, including the Soviet Union. We thought we had done a good job of reducing tensions in the world. The one thing that we expected was to deal on the basis of mutual respect.

18. President Campora replied that he recognized and appreciated that American policy had followed these lines towards other countries, and especially in the Western Hemisphere. He continued that as of May 25, the responsibility for Argentine policy was in the hands of his administration. Previously such responsibility had been with a different government. President Campora reemphasized that he agreed with the Secretary’s statement with regard to the importance of reciprocity and good will. This had always been a guideline for Argentina. But starting May 25, this approach would be pursued with even greater intensity.

19. At this point, President Campora begged the Secretary’s indulgence for a brief moment so that he could accept a phone call which had just been put through to him from the President of Brazil, who wished to convey his congratulations.

20. While President Campora was on the telephone, Foreign Minister Puig raised the matter of a possible revised approach (not specified) on the part of the U.S. to economic relations with Argentina, which he said he assumed would be implicit in the new foreign policy orientation [Page 7] outlined by Secretary Rogers. At this point President Campora returned.

21. Making brief reference to the comments of the Foreign Minister, the Secretary told President Campora that the wish of the U.S. was to be able to discuss all matters in a mature, businesslike way with all of the countries of Latin America. Investment was a case in point. Sovereignty meant that a country had the right to establish such rules as it might see fit. It would then be up to investors to decide where to invest. The Secretary went on to say that the U.S. was not particularly anxious to encourage investments overseas, particularly in view of our balance of payments problems. Large investments overseas tended to create problems in this context because it took a long time for benefits or earnings from these investments to return to the U.S. At the outset such investments, therefore, meant a net outflow of money from the U.S., thus aggravating the U.S. balance of payments problem. Secondly, the USG was not interested in promoting investments in countries where such investments would not be helpful or wanted. If a country did not want such investment, that was all right. In fact, with so much demand for capital investment all over the world today, investors had to decide whether to go to Indonesia, to Western Europe, to Japan, Latin America, or elsewhere. For the USG it made little difference, except for the burden we had to bear when countries blamed us for the behavior of certain companies.

22. Turning to the matter that had been brought up by the Argentine Foreign Minister, the Secretary went on to say he appreciated Argentina’s problem with its trade deficit vis-à-vis the U.S. For this reason, he was hopeful that it would be possible for the U.S. to extend generalized preferences, which should be of some help. He added that the U.S. was particularly sympathetic about such deficits inasmuch as the U.S. had about the largest balance of payments deficit in the world. The Secretary pointed out that the Foreign Minister had referred to Argentina’s trade deficit with the U.S. However, the U.S. itself had a trade deficit with Japan, and Argentina had a surplus trade balance with Japan. Therefore, the Secretary said, the overall balance might not be too unsatisfactory from Argentina’s point of view.

23. The Foreign Minister at this point countered good-humoredly that, although what the Secretary had said might be true, in all seriousness the accrued deficits in Argentina’s trade with the U.S. over the past 40 to 50 years, involving billions of dollars, could not be offset by Argentina’s present surplus with other countries.

24. The Secretary acknowledged the Minister’s comment. Recognizing that time was limited, he indicated to the President that he wished to touch upon one or two further points. These were (1) that the U.S. wanted to have good relations with President Campora’s government, [Page 8] and President Nixon had personally asked the Secretary to convey this to him. (2) The Secretary expressed the hope that it would be possible for the two governments to hold private conversations at any time about matters of mutual interest if necessary to forestall any potential problems.

25. President Campora replied that as the President of Argentina, he wished to pursue the same objective as President Nixon, and he wished to reciprocate the Secretary’s desire. President Campora went on to say that he thought it might be a good thing for both countries to initiate the kind of conversations suggested by Secretary Rogers, possibly through the medium of some kind of working groups, in order to achieve the more thorough understandings that both he and President Nixon wanted. President Campora added that, as the Secretary was also aware, very little of substance could be accomplished in this kind of conversation between them with time so short. That was why other meetings at appropriate levels could be helpful in bringing about the results desired by both sides.

26. President Campora went on to say that, speaking for his country, his wish was to have the best possible relations with the U.S. He emphasized once more that such relations must be pursued on the basis of mutual respect, harmony and reciprocal benefit. He concluded by stating that he considered the visit Secretary Rogers was paying him on this day to be a good starting point for achieving increased understanding, and he expressed the hope that further contacts at appropriate levels could be started soon, consistent with this objective.

27. Secretary Rogers expressed agreement with the President, indicating that he considered the President’s suggestion about working meetings to be most appropriate. He assured the President that Assistant Secretary Kubisch would see that the U.S. side was fully prepared to participate in such meetings.

  1. Summary: President Cámpora, Foreign Minister Puig, and Secretary Rogers discussed nationalism and investment and trade issues.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 S. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Neil Seidenman in OPR/LS and by Kubisch on June 1 and approved in S. Rogers attended President Cámpora’s inauguration.