145. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Letter to Lopez Portillo

Attached at Tab A is the letter from you to President Lopez Portillo on natural gas which you requested.2 Apparently, Senator Bentsen is afraid that Lopez Portillo is being pressured by the leftists in his party to include a section which calls for the development of Mexico’s natural gas for Mexico alone. We are as concerned as Senator Bentsen, but believe that a direct request by you would be counter-productive. Therefore, we have phrased the letter in such a way that he understands our concerns, while at the same time we do not mention specifically his State of the Union Address.

Pat Lucey met with Lopez Portillo in late June, and Lopez Portillo told him that he had directed PEMEX to study the use of natural gas in Mexico alone. He also said he saw no reason for new talks until after Congress completed action on the energy bill.3 Since then, we have received intelligence suggesting that he is very disturbed by our two governments’ failure to reach agreement, but he believes that it was Mexico that “bungled” it. In time, we believe that he will be able to back away from his current position, and therefore we share Bentsen’s hope that Lopez Portillo will not say anything in his speech which will make future agreement more difficult.4

The letter has been cleared by Fallows and by State Department. Pat Lucey has also discussed it with my staff and cleared an early draft.

[Page 317]


That you sign the letter at Tab A.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, 1977–1981, Box 51, PRM/NSC–41. No classification marking. Sent for action. Carter initialed the memorandum indicating that he saw it.
  2. Dated August 18; attached but not printed. “Once my energy plan is passed,” Carter wrote, “I look forward to strengthening our relationship on this critical issue [energy] to our mutual benefit. An agreement on the sale of natural gas could provide an opportunity for doing that.”
  3. See Document 142.
  4. In telegram 215074 to Mexico City, August 24, the Department transmitted an account of Secretary of Energy Schlesinger’s meeting with Margain, during which Schlesinger told Margain that the United States would be ready to resume talks on natural gas when congressional action on the energy bill was completed. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780345–1037) In his State of the Union speech, Lopez Portillo “left the door open on gas sales to the U.S.” (Telegram 14511 from Mexico City, September 2; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780359–0312)
  5. Lucey reported he delivered the President’s letter on August 19. (Telegram 13666 from Mexico City, August 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780340–0474)