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

95806. Subj: Letelier/Moffitt Assassination Investigation: Meeting with Deputy Secretary April 6, 1978. Reference: Santiago 2494.2

1. Chilean Under Secretary of Interior Montero, accompanied by Attorney Miguel Schweitzer and Charge Amenabar, met 1800 hours April 6 with Deputy Secretary Christopher, ARA Deputy Assistant Secretary McNeil, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Propper and Barcela and Chile Desk Officer Steven, to discuss Letelier/Moffitt investigation.

2. Montero thanked Christopher for receiving them and affirmed seriousness with which GOC regards matter. He emphasized GOC concern for justice and for public opinion in both countries. He declared the GOC’s innocence, reminded meeting of “open door” offered to Propper, pointed out significance of military investigation now underway in Chile, and noted that retirement of Contreras was designed to “give greater freedom of action” in investigation. (Separately, he indicated to McNeil that they were investigating Contreras.) He noted that GOC could ask US to seek extradition of Townley, or could keep him in Chile (presumably under local charges). But to show full faith, it had been decided to expel Townley immediately as Townley was illegally in Chile.

3. In return, GOC would appreciate public declaration by State and Justice Depts. acknowledging Chilean cooperation.3 GOC assumed responsibility to continue cooperation, and wished to make arrangements to share future information developed in Letelier case for mutual pursuit of justice. Montero expected that Townley might have much to tell of interest to GOC, but would now view GOC as enemy and might invent accusations against GOC, which naturally wished to be prepared.

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4. Christopher, in turn, thanked GOC for its cooperation to date. He asked Propper to comment on the arrangements that had been made. Propper said the GOC would expel Townley from Chile, on illegal entry charges, on Friday evening April 7. It was understood that the justice department, through the FBI, would convey to the GOC information concerning crimes committed in Chile which might be obtained from Townley. In turn, the GOC would inform the USG of all further information concerning the Letelier/Moffitt case which might be developed in Chile. This arrangement had been reached with Generals Orozoco and Mena in Chile. It was also understood that state and Justice Departments would collaborate in issuing a public acknowledgement of Chilean cooperation and an indication that cooperation between the two governments would continue.

5. Schweitzer asked for and received from Propper assurance that in Justice Department’s view GOC responsibility for Townley would be considered at an end when he was placed on a plane in Santiago with accompanying FBI agents.

6. Christopher asked if the proposed statement was agreeable to both parties. Schweitzer said he had some minor questions on language, to be worked out with Propper and State Dept. Montero confirmed that release of the agreed statement on Monday, April 10, at the State Dept noon briefing, was acceptable to the GOC. Christopher said he had understood statement was acceptable to Chileans, and Schweitzer indicated it was. They had, however, a few minor suggestions. Christopher said those present were welcome to use his conference room to come to final agreement on the statement and that he would be available should any aspect of the statement need his further attention.

7. In leaving, Montero noted developments he had emphasized to Ambassador Landau in Santiago. The visit of Mr. Mezvinski to Chile April 10–11 to discuss the UNHRC problem; the April 5 speech of President Pinochet; and the Letelier case.4 He wished to ask that Secretary Vance receive Foreign Minister Carvajal in the coming months to permit Carvajal to explain the ongoing Chilean process of political development. Christopher assured Montero of our profound interest in Chilean liberalization and said that earnest consideration would be given to any request for a call on Secretary Vance. He could not, of [Page 635] course, commit the Secretary or judge whether his schedule would accommodate such an interview.5

8. Subsequently, the participants, except for the Deputy Secretary, adjourned to the Deputy Secretary’s conference room to make slight refinements in the statement’s final text which has been sent septel.6 (Schweitzer sought to include the notion of a joint investigation in the statement, but we did not agree.)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780160-0312. Secret; Priority; Stadis; Exdis. Drafted by Steven; cleared by Propper, Oxman, and in S/S-O; approved by McNeil. Distributed only to ARA, D and L.
  2. Dated April 5. The Embassy detailed the agreement between USG and GOC officials by which Townley would be subject to “informal expulsion” from Chile and handed into U.S. custody for questioning regarding the Letelier assassination. Propper agreed “to provide GOC information on actions implicating Chileans in criminal acts (not restricted to Letelier case), that derives from Letelier/Moffitt assassination investigation and that we will give GOC access to Townley in US–provided he or his lawyer do not raise objections.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780147-0504)
  3. In telegram 2479 from Santiago, April 4, the Embassy outlined the final GOC requirement: “A joint statement acknowledging Chile’s full cooperation in this case.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780146-0135)
  4. Mezvinsky visited Chile on April 10 and 11. (Telegram 2693 from Santiago, April 11; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780156-0348) Pinochet announced a set of prisoner releases on April 5. (Telegram 2551 from Santiago, April 6; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780149-0793)
  5. In an April 6 memorandum to Oxman, McNeil wrote that “at the last minute” the Chilean delegation “had seen the Junta (presumably all of them) who had instructed them to ask for one thing further, agreement in a month or so for the Secretary to see Chilean Foreign Minister Carvajal.” Propper had responded that the request “was State’s business, but he was sure it would be unacceptable to link a judicial investigation with a political question.” McNeil recommended that, if asked, Christopher respond by saying, “we have been scrupulously careful not to link our political relationship with the requirements of justice,” but “obviously when a Foreign Minister makes a request to meet the Secretary we give it serious consideration.” (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977-1980, Lot 81D113, Box 31, Human Rights—Chile I) (S) Vance did not meet with Carvajal at this time; for the October 1978 meeting of Vance with Cubillos, see Document 226. For Vaky’s August 1978 meeting with Cubillos, see Document 221.
  6. The statement was made during the Department’s noon press briefing on April 10. (Telegram 91806 to Santiago, April 10, National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780155-0042)