177. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Brazil1

161897. Subject: Memorandum of Conversation of Bilateral Meeting Between Secretary Vance and Foreign Minister Silveira June 22, 1978 2:30 P.M.

1. Summary: Secretary Vance and Silveira discussed Africa, the Middle East, OAS reform, an OAS peacekeeping role, and US shrimping off Brazil. On the shrimping issue Silveira promised, after not responding to proposed talks at the technical level, to have the Foreign Ministry approach Ambassador Sayre on the issue. The Secretary promised that our shrimping experts would backstop the Embassy. End summary.

2. Participants on the US side in addition to Secretary Vance were Deputy Asst. Sec. Francis J. McNeil, National Security Council Member Robert Pastor, and Assistant Brazil Desk Officer James W. Chamberlin. The Brazilian side was represented by Foreign Minister Antonio Francisco Azeredo da Silveira, Ambassador to the US Joao Baptista Pinheiro, Ambassador to the OAS Alarico Silveira Junior, Minister Jose Nogueria Filho (Advisor for Political Affairs), and Counselor Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg (Advisor for Bilateral Affairs).

3. Foreign Minister Silveira began by saying that he had been happy to read the speech given by Secretary Vance in New Jersey.2 He felt that this was the right way to deal with the problem in Africa; if you give the impression that you will do too much, you will not reap the advantages of your position. Africans may be afraid at this point so that the way we approach them is important. Secretary Vance agreed, and said he had recently received word from Nyerere that he approved of the speech.3 Silveira felt that Nigeria would also respond favorably.

4. Secretary Vance described the mission of Don McHenry whom he had sent to talk to Neto.4 The Secretary felt that we would make [Page 546] more progress in dealing with Namibia and the question of the Angola-Zaire border by opening up communication. Silveira agreed, saying that the Brazilians had been protected by Neto, since the Cubans would like to see them leave. He felt that we must strengthen Angola’s options, adding that the idea of diplomatic relations as an expression of friendship belongs to the past. He hoped the final reaction of the African states would be against all kinds of intervention and all foreign troops, but cautioned against the racial sentiment in Africa.

5. On Namibia Secretary Vance said that the two remaining issues with SWAPO are Walvis Bay and the 1500 man residual troop force to be left in the Northern or Southern part of Namibia. The Western five believe that for economic, geographic, and other reasons Walvis Bay should be part of Namibia. Silveira added that Nigeria would agree. The Secretary said that it would be silly for our efforts on Namibia to succeed or fail on the issue of where the 1500 troops would be stationed.

6. On the Middle East, Secretary Vance said that we were disappointed in Israel’s replies to our two questions.5 Silveira agreed with the Secretary that negotiations were still going forward, and asked if he had not seen an indication of more US sympathy for the Palestinians in the US-India Joint Communiqué. Secretary Vance replied that although there would be a transition period, the Palestinians must ultimately have a voice in determining their future. The Secretary felt that Israel would have to eventually accept Resolution 242 as applying to the West Bank or problems would go on endlessly.

7. Secretary Vance said that the morning session of the General Assembly had included an interesting discussion of North-South issues, the New International Economic Order, and the question of setting OAS priorities.6 The discussion was opened by the Columbians, picked up by the Peruvians, and touched on by others. Silveira responded that outside of economic cooperation there was little reform to be done in the OAS; its principles should not be changed. The Secretary said that its priorities and focus should be considered. Could we discuss North-South issues at the hemispheric level? Silveira thought not in most cases. In any event, except for economic cooperation, reform would involve only secondary matters.

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8. Secretary Vance asked how we could deal with setting OAS priorities—should we have discussions at the ministerial level, or set up a committee of wise men? Silveira said that the wise men would be a wise idea, but that they would not be politically acceptable. Governments want to protect their own interests. We could, however, exchange ideas. The basic interest of Latin America is development—politically, economically and socially.

9. The Secretary asked how Silveira felt about an OAS peacekeeping role. Silveira said that Brazil, with its ten neighbors, is in a special position; it is the largest trading partner of three of its neighbors, and an important partner of many of the rest. Thus, Brazil must adopt a pragmatic policy; the US with only two borders does not face the same kinds of problems. Venezuela has trouble on its other borders, but not with Brazil. He felt that we were taking Venezuela’s position on peacekeeping; he was not being critical, just frank. He commented on Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, and their diplomacy. When the Secretary asked Silveira what he would do, he said he would not wrestle with it. There was not going to be any war between Chile, Bolivia and Peru.

10. The Secretary broached a bilateral question—shrimping. Silveira said that although the US did not recognize Brazil’s 200 mile claim, it had accepted certain conditions on fishing within 200 miles, and thus in essence had agreed to fish outside the limit. Adm. Henning had told him by cable that five fishing boats were fishing where they should not have been, and that when the US shrimp boats had not responded to the Brazilian Navy boats on the scene, the Navy had to send another boat, and eventually a destroyer, which fired into the sea. He said that Brazil did not intend to shoot at the boats. He would tell Ambassador Sayre that Brazil will not fire at the boats, but that they should fish outside the 200 mile limit. This could be a problem he said.

11. Secretary Vance suggested technical level discussion of the issue. Silveira said that shrimping agreements were limited to joint ventures. Brazil was closing out foreign fishing because otherwise there would be no fish left. Shrimp are born near the coast and move out as they mature, so that fishing near the coast depletes the shrimp. In addition, although the boats that shrimp off the Brazilian Coast fly the US flag, they are based in small nearby states.

12. Secretary Vance said that he would hate to see the US pass restrictive legislation banning imported Brazilian shrimp, and he hoped that discussions between the two countries could prevent this. Silveira replied that Brazil did not do anything to the boats it seized, but if they continued to fish . . . (his voice trailed off). He thought that we must not have ambiguities in our relationship. He sensed that Brazil [Page 548] did not have the same place in the hearts of Americans that it once did, but if Brazil felt encircled, it would stand fast. There are people who create problems, he said, but not us. Not us either, replied the Secretary, but if there is a problem we don’t believe we should let it fester until it becomes an open sore. Silveira said that the Brazilian Navy has cooperated with the US, and thought that it would be concerned. Secretary Vance said that we would be in touch with Amb. Sayre on this subject, and would ask our Bureau concerned with fisheries to give all assistance to the Ambassador. Silveira said he had given instructions for the Foreign Ministry to talk to Amb. Sayre, but added that raising the possibility of legislative restrictions did not help the situation, and the Brazilians would have to respond if there were. The secretary replied that such restrictions were exactly what we wanted to avoid by getting discussions going.

13. Silveira said that if the US market were closed to markets. Brazil is now growing as the US was sixty years ago, and everyone must live with this. He said the US should not complain about its portion of the Brazilian market, because only the US share has not been decreased by Brazil’s $4 billion oil bill. Even the FRG and UK shares went down, but the US talks as if it had trade difficulties with Brazil.

14. When the secretary asked Silveira whether he would like to raise any bilateral issues, Silveira demurred. Commercial negotiations were going well, and he had no specific problems to raise; however President Geisel wished to know about the status of a reply to a letter on transfer of technology in the steel industry to President Carter. Mr. McNeil said that the reply had been cabled to Brasilia the day before, but provided a copy to Ambassador Pinheiro for the Foreign Minister that afternoon.7

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780264-1213. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information to USUN. Drafted by Chamberlin; cleared by McNeil, Rondon, and in S/S; approved by Vance. Vance summarized this meeting in a June 23 memorandum to Carter. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 20, Evening Reports (State), 6/78)
  2. Vance addressed the Jaycees in Atlantic City on June 20, 1978. For text of the speech, see “United States Policy Toward Africa ‘Is Based On American Interests and African Realities,’” American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1977–1980, pp. 1145–1149.
  3. For Nyerere’s reaction to Vance’s June 20 speech, see telegram 2662 from Dar es Salaam, June 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780259-0350) See also Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 89.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XVI, Southern Africa, footnote 3, Document 25.
  5. For the questions Vance had asked Dayan, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VIII, Arab-Israeli Dispute, January 1977-August 1978, Document 248, footnote 3. For the Israeli answers, delivered on June 18, see Quandt, Camp David, pp. 195–196.
  6. For a summary of the morning OAS General Assembly session on June 26, see telegram 162642 to All American Republic Diplomatic Posts, June 26. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780265-0630)
  7. Both Geisel’s letter to Carter, May 30, and Carter’s June 19 reply regarding an international steel arrangement are in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron, Box 5, Brazil, 1978.