155. Summary of Conclusions of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • U.S. Policy to Mexico


    • State
    • Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher
    • Matthew Nimetz, Counselor
    • Jules Katz, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs
    • Luigi Einaudi, Staff Director, NSC Interdepartmental Groups
    • Ambassador Patrick Lucey, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
  • OSD

    • Stanley Resor, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
    • Treasury
    • Secretary of Treasury Michael Blumenthal
    • C. Fred Bergsten, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. William Smith, Assistant to the Chairman, JCS
  • Energy

    • Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger
    • Les Goldman, Deputy Asst. Secretary for Policy and Evaluation
    • Richard Smith, Director of Office Coordination
  • CIA

    • Admiral Turner, Director of Central Intelligence
    • Hans Heymann, National Intelligence Officer for Political Economy
  • OMB

    • James McIntyre, Director of OMB
  • Domestic Policy

    • Stu Eizenstat
    • Kitty Schirmer
  • OSTP

    • Ben Huberman
  • NSC

    • Ambassador Henry Owen
    • Robert Pastor
    • Rutherford Poats
  • White House

    • Dr. Brzezinski
    • Rick Inderfurth


PRC on Mexico

Chaired by Warren Christopher, the PRC met for its third session on PRM–41 (U.S. relations with Mexico)2 and considered three issues: (1) energy relations, including Presidential discussions and U.S. strategy for subsequent negotiation of a gas price formula; (2) organization of the U.S. Government for a more coordinated approach to relations with Mexico, and (3) the general approach to the Presidential visit to Mexico. (S)

Energy. It was agreed that the United States should seek to develop an extensive set of energy relationships with Mexico, designed to increase world energy supply, enhance U.S. energy security, and support rapid but stable Mexican economic and social development. The President’s visit is critical to establishing a more positive political climate for negotiations on gas supply and a possible subsequent oil supply agreement. He should sensitively refute Mexican suspicion of U.S. intentions. As a way to improve the atmosphere and place the gas issue in a broader context of energy cooperation, he could suggest: (a) joint studies of potential electric power interchange and gas transmission cooperative arrangements along the common border; (b) U.S. technical consultation and R & D cooperation on solar and geothermal development, enhanced recovery of oil, and uranium processing; and [Page 349] (c) if the Mexicans express interest, support of an accelerated rate of oilfield development through long-term U.S. purchase contracts for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or the Defense Supply Agency. He should indicate to President Lopez Portillo that we are interested in a long-term arrangement for importing natural gas from Mexico. (S)

It was agreed that the President should outline in general terms the U.S. approach to gas pricing (including the fact that our regulatory agencies must approve any agreement), and elicit Lopez Portillo’s position, but he should avoid a discussion over whether residual oil is the right price yardstick, referring it to the technical experts. The President should express interest in completing negotiations early. To do this, the President would designate a representative who will work with one designated by Lopez Portillo to decide on a formula for natural gas pricing that takes into account market conditions, the prices of comparable products, and the long-term relationship we wish to create with Mexico. (S)

We should seek inclusion in the joint communique of agreement to an early specified date for negotiation of the gas price formula.3 Negotiations between Mexico and the gas companies would proceed only after negotiators of the two governments agreed on standards. (S)

In discussions of oil, the President should welcome Mexican interest in swapping Mexican oil for Alaskan in supplying Japan and the U.S. Gulf Coast, but note that this depends on U.S. Congressional approval. He also should encourage Mexico to increase oil exports to Israel. (S)

Coordinator of U.S.-Mexican Relations

There was a consensus that our bilateral relationship with Mexico was quantitatively different than with any other country’s: more issues span the abstract dividing line between foreign and domestic concerns; more domestic departments are involved with the resulting problem of coordination; more issues impact directly on domestic politics. With the exception of OMB, there was a consensus that some special mechanism was necessary for dealing with the coordination of these issues. (S)

The symbolism would be helpful to our relationship as well. A special coordinator to negotiate the outstanding issues in U.S.-Mexican affairs should be considered only if a person of substantial political stature could be found. Also suggested was the idea of doing a study of our relationship in 10–20 years, but it was felt that this would be more appropriately done outside the government. On the issue of day-[Page 350]to-day management of U.S.-Mexican affairs, it was left to the State Department to decide how it would organize itself for these issues. (S)

Approach to Trip. Matt Nimetz reported on his conversation with Foreign Minister Roel about the agenda for the trip.4 Roel suggested an agenda of almost every conceivable issue in bilateral relations and a number of international issues. Ambassador Lucey said that Lopez Portillo would value suggestions from the U.S. on how to structure the meeting. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 32, Mexico, PRM–41 (Policy), 2–7/79. Secret. The meeting was held in the White House Situation Room.
  2. See Documents 150 and 152.
  3. The February 16 joint communiqué issued at the end of President Carter’s visit to Mexico did not mention agreement on a specific date to begin gas price negotiations. (Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book I, p. 291)
  4. In telegram 1428 from Mexico City, January 26, the Embassy reported on Nimetz’s meeting with Roel regarding Carter’s visit. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790038–0332)