319. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter1


  • Invitation from Prime Minister Manley to Attend a North/South Summit: December 28–29, 1978

Prime Minister Manley has sent you two letters (Tabs B and C),2 inviting you to Jamaica on December 28th and 29th to meet informally with Chancellor Schmidt, Prime Ministers Fraser, Nordli, and Trudeau and a few leaders of developing countries, including Nyerere and Perez.

After weighing the pros and cons of your attendance, the State Department recommends against your participation.3 We agree with [Page 1010] State’s judgment that the time and place are not opportune for you. Your participation could raise international expectations that could not be realized at this time.4

You have on several occasions expressed support for formal North/South meetings. Your reply therefore indicates your support for such meetings because of the contribution they can make to improving North/South relations, while also indicating the risks.

You may wish to read Manley’s letters. The second of them (Tab C) includes a personal note to you and Mrs. Carter as well as Manley’s views on two issues—the mandate of the U.N. Committee that succeeded the Paris North-South Dialogue (Secretary Vance addressed this issue in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly)5 and the Common Fund.

The reply has been cleared with State and Jim Fallows.6


That you sign the letter to Prime Minister Manley at Tab A.

Tab A

Letter From President Carter to Jamaican Prime Minister Manley 7

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

I appreciate very much your invitation to visit Jamaica this December to participate with you and other Heads of State and Government in an informal discussion of North/South issues. Although I take seriously the points made in your letter of October 13, I deeply regret that I am unable to accept your invitation.

[Page 1011]

As you know from our conversations in Panama earlier this year,8 I am keenly interested in relations between developing and developed countries. Improved communication among the parties to the North/South dialogue offers the best hope for progress. Under Secretary Cooper’s talk with you in Kingston9 provided me with insights that were helpful during my discussions in Bonn.10

Although it will not be possible for me to join you in Jamaica, I hope that the meeting, and others involving leaders of developed and developing nations, will help each side understand the other.11

I look forward to hearing the results of your discussions, and to continuing cooperation between developed and developing countries.

With my best wishes for a successful meeting.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 10, Jamaica: Prime Minister Michael Norman Manley, 5/77–12/78. Confidential. Aaron initialed the memorandum on Brzezinski’s behalf. Carter wrote at the top of the page: “Retype. J.” An unknown person wrote below that: “retyped 10/25/78.”
  2. Tab B, attached but not printed, is an October 4 letter from Jamaican Ambassador Alfred Rattray to Carter transmitting a message from Manley. Carter initialed at the top of Rattray’s letter and wrote: “Nice regrets.” Tab C, attached but not printed, is an October 13 letter from Manley to Carter. Carter initialed at the top of Manley’s letter.
  3. In an October 14 memorandum to Brzezinski, Tarnoff discussed the Department of State’s “view that it would not be in the best interests of the United States for the President to participate in a mini-summit on the North/South dialogue without detailed advance preparations—something the Jamaicans clearly do not have in mind. In addition, we are uncertain how Jamaica’s fellow members in the Group of 77 feel about Manley asserting himself in a leadership role, especially now that Tunisia has replaced Jamaica as leader of the New York contingent of the G–77. The meeting could foster negative reactions among the non-invited major economic powers, particularly Japan and France. It also seems unlikely that the President would be able to announce enough changes in U.S. positions to improve the atmosphere of the North/South dialogue.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 10, Jamaica: Prime Minister Michael Norman Manley, 5/77–12/78)
  4. In an undated memorandum to Brzezinski, Erb and Pastor suggested arguments in favor of Carter’s attendance at the summit, but accepted Brzezinski’s “assessment that this North/South Summit is not the right place or time for the President and perhaps has not brought together the right combination of people.” (Ibid.)
  5. For Vance’s September 29 address to the UN General Assembly, in which he endorsed the Committee of the Whole, see the Department of State Bulletin, November 1978, pp. 45–50.
  6. An unknown hand wrote “OK” at the end of this sentence and initialed the memorandum.
  7. No classification marking.
  8. See Document 306.
  9. See Tab A to Document 311.
  10. Carter is referring to the Bonn Economic Summit; see Documents 145148.
  11. A draft of this letter contains two additional sentences at the end of this paragraph: “I believe such meetings are useful, if they do not give rise to unrealistic expectations, or thoughts of earlier and more concrete results than are likely to occur. In my country, at least, this is a risk that I have to bear in mind.” These sentences were crossed out by hand; an unknown hand wrote in the margin next to the sentences: “JC hand writing ‘scratches.’” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 10, Jamaica: Prime Minister Michael Norman Manley, 5/77–12/78)