312. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4060. Subject: UNGA: Bilateral Talks Between Secretary Vance and Peruvian Foreign Minister Carlos Garcia-Bedoya

1. (C–Entire Text.)

2. Summary: UNGA bilateral between Secretary Vance and the Peruvian Foreign Minister was held on September 24. The meeting was also attended by Peru’s UN Perm Rep Carlos Alzamora, White House Ambassador Alfonso Arias-Schreiber, OAS Ambassador Luis Marchand, DAS Samuel Eaton and US Ambassador to Peru Barry Shlaudeman. The talk centered largely on the situation in Nicaragua and what efforts are being taken and planned by the US and Peru. The Secretary also suggested subsequent consultations on the Caribbean. The discussion of bilateral issues dealt with the lifting of the tuna embargo, Panama Canal tolls, and the redemocratization process in Peru. End summary.

3. Nicaragua. Secretary Vance told Minister Garcia-Bedoya that the United States is expediting the provision of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction aid to Nicaragua.2 There has been a recent increase in U.S. assistance and the Department of State will be requesting a supplemental appropriation from Congress in the near future. The Secretary observed that President Carter was meeting with the Nicaraguan junta that same day and that he would be meeting with them in [Page 882] New York later in the week.3 We seek close consultation with the Peruvians as we formulate our policy toward Nicaragua. The Secretary alluded to his frustration over the slowness of existing mechanisms for providing US assistance in emergency situations and that he would be seeking the creation of a contingency fund.

4. Minister Garcia-Bedoya recalled the initiative taken by the Andean Pact countries4 in the period prior to the overthrow of Somoza and said that the sub-regional group continues to wish to cooperate with the new junta in Nicaragua. He remarked that this involvement was not only out of a sense of solidarity but the desire to inject alternatives into that fluid situation. Peru, he stated, did not want to see a repetition of what transpired in Cuba twenty years ago. Peru believes that isolation was the crucial factor then.

5. Peru currently has four advisory missions operating or planned for in Nicaragua in the following areas: 1) refinancing the external debt (the Minister made an aside that he hoped the USG would provide Nicaragua the same support as we did Peru last year); 2) fishing; 3) mining; and 4) administrative reorganization. Nicaragua has asked for assistance in the field of education, now under strong Cuban influence, but Peru has so far been unable to respond. Peru has also offered Nicaragua a long-term credit of US $10 million in addition to planeloads of emergency food and medicine. Minister Garcia-Bedoya remarked that there was a general feeling among Latin Americans that the United States was not yet doing enough rapidly enough in Nicaragua, although they are aware of U.S. governmental procedures and restrictions. The Minister expressed the fear that time is running out and that therefore there is an urgent need for a strong U.S. presence. There are conflicting reports on the correlation of forces in the new government, he said, but there is still time to influence the outcome.

6. The Secretary agreed entirely with the Peruvian assessment of the situation in Nicaragua. He said Peru was doing the right things in terms of its involvement and that these would have a meaningful effect. He expressed his own concern about the time it takes the U.S. to mount a new program, while saying that the US request for a supplemental should go to Congress soon and that he was proposing a contingency fund for future situations like this.

7. The Caribbean: The Secretary said that Special Assistant Habib recently had completed a study of the situation in the Caribbean which [Page 883] he had approved.5 There has been much progress in shaping a U.S. policy toward that region. Vance indicated that he would like fuller discussions of the Caribbean with Peru to take place at an appropriate time.

8. Bilateral issues: Turning to bilateral issues. The Secretary was pleased to announce that the U.S. tuna embargo against Peru has been lifted and that it would go into effect upon publication in the Federal Register.6 At the same time, Vance expressed the hope that there would be no more seizures of U.S. tuna clippers and that a new tuna treaty could be negotiated. He also stated that the USG was cognizant of Peru’s concern over Panama Canal tolls and assured the Peruvians that we would do our best to ensure that future toll increases would be held to moderate levels. The Secretary also expressed pleasure over the announcement by President Morales Bermudez of general elections next May. Ambassador Shlaudeman congratulated the Peruvians for the extraordinary progress they have made over the past two years in improving the economic situation.

9. Minister Garcia-Bedoya expressed appreciation over the lifting of the tuna embargo. As the second largest user of the Panama Canal, he expressed appreciation for anything the USG could do to keep toll increases to a minimum. He noted that the Morales Bermudez government has made a major effort to move ahead on the return to civilian government in the face of serious economic difficulties. While major problems still exist, the economic situation in Peru continues to improve. On the political front, the Minister expressed the hope that the civilian parties would assume their full responsibilities and work toward a coalition of democratic forces. A weak civilian government, he noted, would be most unfortunate for the future of Peru.

10. Suggested distribution:

—AmEmbassy Lima

—AmEmbassy Managua

—AmEmbassy Panama City

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State, 1977–80, Lot 84D241, Box 9, Vance Exdis memcons 1979. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 297.
  3. For Carter’s conversation with the junta, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 308. The junta’s meeting with Vance did not occur. (Telegram 259483 to All American Republic Diplomatic Posts, October 3; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, no film number given)
  4. See Documents 358, 362, and 363.
  5. Not found.
  6. The United States imposed an embargo on Peruvian tuna imports on May 1, after the GOP seized a U.S. tuna boat. (Telegram 123161 to Lima, May 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790224-0002) The embargo was lifted on October 17. (Telegram 271547 to Lima, October 17; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790476-0431)