192. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Chile1

65361. Subject: Ambassador Cauas’ Presentation of Credentials to the President.

1. Ambassador Cauas presented credentials to President Carter on March 23rd.2 Ambassador was accompanied during the first part of the ceremony by his wife. During a subsequent five-minute conversation between President and the Ambassador, Assistant to the President for [Page 580] National Security Affairs Brzezinski and Acting Assistant Secretary Luers were present.

2. The President opened the discussion by noting that the Ambassador had been Minister of Finance “and a good one at that.” The President asked the state of Chile’s economy today. The Ambassador responded that Chile was emerging from its major difficulties created by the previous government and the low price of copper. The balance of payments and inflation problems were improving.

3. The President said that the Ambassador was most certainly aware of the basis of the problems existing between our two countries. He wanted to assure the Ambassador that the United States Government and the American people wanted nothing less than the most friendly relations with the government and people of Chile. He said most certainly President Pinochet and he have a common interest in the just treatment of their citizens. The United States is prepared to go more than halfway over the next few months to see improved relations and he would like to move quickly to resolve the misunderstandings and differences between us. The Ambassador responded that Chile also and his President wanted good relations with the United States.

4. The President said that he had noted and was greatly pleased by the Chilean decision to release political prisoners last fall. This positive act was helpful. He assured the Ambassador that he would make certain that the American people learned of any further positive steps of that type. The President also said that any inadvertent remark or statement that created problems or misunderstandings between our two governments should be clarified at once, and he hoped the Ambassador would inform the Secretary of State or him personally if misunderstandings should arise. The President said he hoped the Ambassador would, through the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs or the Secretary of State, transmit any proposals on what steps might be taken to improve our relations.

5. The President said that it should be clear that he and the American people felt deeply about human rights and the importance of all governments to treat their people more fairly. But this interest should not be seen as interference but as supportive of the interest of all governments.

6. The Ambassador on several occasions throughout the President’s remarks responded affirmatively and with support. Upon departing the Oval Office, the Ambassador indicated to Luers that he was greatly encouraged by the President’s tone and remarks.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770100-0661. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Luers; cleared by Brzezinski and in S/S-O and in draft by Driscoll; approved by Luers.
  2. Carter met with Cauas from 1:40 to 1:45 p.m.