259. Telegram From the White House to the Embassy in Colombia1

80313. Subject: Presidential Message. For Charge Crigler. Please pass the following message from President Carter to President Turbay. No hard copy will follow.

Begin Text

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your letter of March 3, 1980.2 I appreciate the great responsibility you bear for negotiating a safe release of hostages from the Embassy of the Dominican Republic; I myself have borne similar pressures during the last four months while my Government’s Embassy has been under seige in Tehran.

I want to reiterate the full confidence I have in you and your Government as the sole negotiator for the release of the hostages. Your efforts will not only affect the lives of these diplomatic hostages but also the lives of Ambassadors as well as private citizens who could be captured in the future by terrorist groups like the M–19. To the extent that the M–19 succeeds in its objectives, that could encourage other terrorist groups throughout the world to seek their ends through this new and despicable form of international blackmail.

As you know, the policy of the United States Government is clear: we do not pay ransom to terrorists.

This tragic situation underlines once again the requirement for cooperation by the international community to develop effective deterrents to terrorism. In this connection, we would be pleased to join with your government and to seek support from our colleagues to ask the OAS to undertake an urgent review of what more the OAS could properly do in this field.3


Jimmy Carter

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  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 4, Colombia: President Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, 3-5/80. Confidential; Immediate; Priority.
  2. The letter and translation are ibid.
  3. In telegram 2600 from Bogota, March 9, the Embassy reported on Crigler’s delivery of the message and Turbay’s reaction to it. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N800004-0348)