337. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Todman) to Secretary of State Vance1


  • Response to Letter from Trinidadian Prime Minister Williams


How to respond to a letter from Trinidadian Prime Minister Williams which suggests high level bilateral discussions on a variety of economic issues in Port of Spain the first week of August.


During your visit to Trinidad following the OAS General Assembly in Grenada, Prime Minister Williams indicated an interest in continuing discussions on technology transfer and possible liquid natural gas (LNG) sales to the United States. In his July 7 letter to you (Tab 2),2 [Page 830] Williams proposes talks in Port of Spain during the first week in August. The enclosure to his letter, characterized as the proposed basis for the talks, does not mention LNG but does touch on a variety of trade and technology transfer matters.

We are inclined to believe that Williams is aiming at a special economic relationship with the United States, based in part on what Williams sees as Trinidad’s special situation as a reliable, nearby, democratic supplier of hydrocarbons.

Because of Trinidad’s important and very helpful role in the Caribbean, we are anxious to be as forthcoming as possible to Williams. His proposals are quite vague, however, and any commitments on LNG will require careful study and important policy decisions.

At this point our best course appears to be further exploration of Williams’ intentions, without making any commitments. A warm but essentially noncommittal reply to Williams’ letter is recommended, while we consider how best to respond to the substantive matters he raises.


1. That you sign the attached cable reply to Williams (Tab 1), thanking him for his letter and promising an early response to his proposal.3

2. That you direct ARA and EB to coordinate with other interested agencies and bureaus to study Williams’ proposals and form a team to participate in the proposed talks.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770138–2493. Confidential. Drafted July 13 by Heavner; cleared by Katz. An unidentified hand wrote at the top of the first page, “Tel sent 7/16.”
  2. Attached but not printed. The letter contains an invitation from Prime Minister Williams to conduct bilateral economic talks in Port of Spain.
  3. Vance checked the approve option on July 16. The reply to Williams was transmitted in telegram 166516 to Port of Spain, July 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770254–0475)
  4. Talks were held in Port of Spain from August 3 to August 5, with Arellano leading the U.S. delegation. Ambassador Fox reported, “Over-all reaction of GOTT to talks has been very favorable . . . hopefully it will serve to facilitate closer cooperation from GOTT on a number of issues of interest to us.” (Telegram 2337 from Port of Spain, August 12; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770292–0546)