140. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to the Department of State1

Secto 5011. Subject: Highlights of May 4 Vance-Roel Conversations.

1. At Roel’s request in view of forthcoming Mexican visit to Soviet Union, conversation focused primarily on world issues, particularly those with which Soviet Union is involved. Conversation consisted largely of presentation by Vance of U.S. positions on SALT, Soviet-Cuban actions in Africa, preparations for Special Session on Disarmament, “neutron bomb”, China, Korea, Vietnam, U.S. arms package to Middle East, and Namibia.

2. Issues of special interest to Latin America were conventional arms restraints in Latin America and OAS (septels),2 Cuba and Tlatelolco.

3. On Cuba, Roel expressed belief that Cuban action in Africa is primarily “blood payment” to Soviets for massive assistance. Cubans are also getting benefit of training for their troops in actual combat situation. He thought Cuban action based only slightly on desire to play leadership role in Third World or to foster world revolution. Roel said if U.S. would lift blockade, it might be possible resolve other issues with Cubans since Castro is clearly interested in improving relations with U.S. Secretary Vance said one of his first statements at the beginning of this administration was to favor normalization with Cuba.3 U.S. took number of general steps in this direction. However, Cuba did not respond satisfactorily and we could not afford to give away our major bargaining chip for nothing from Cuba. Roel said he understood U.S. position and would be glad to be of any help he could.

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4. Tlatelolco Treaty. Both Secretary Vance and Foreign Secretary Roel agreed that Soviet announcement of intention to accede to Tlatelolco is most favorable development. Now that France has agreed to make similar announcement probably during Special Session on Disarmament, Cuba remains the only country not to have signed. Roel agreed to discuss this issue further with Cubans.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780196–0761. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated for information Immediate to Helsinki, USINT Havana, and Caracas. Vance made an official visit to Mexico May 3–5.
  2. Telegram Secto 5012 from Mexico City, May 5, reported that Vance had informed Roel of a Venezuelan initiative (the broadening of the Ayacucho Declaration) to reduce arms in Latin America. Roel expressed sympathy with the Venezuelan proposal. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780192–0873) Telegram Secto 5014 from Mexico City, May 5, reported that Vance and Roel agreed to exchange views on strengthening the OAS. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780192–0889)
  3. See the Department of State Bulletin, February 21, 1977, p. 143.