[Page 712]

288. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • International Political Issues: Panama Canal Treaties, Non-Proliferation, Middle East, Africa, Belize, Nicaragua, and Conventional Arms Restraint

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Terence A. Todman, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
  • W. Anthony Lake, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • Robert A. Pastor, NSC Staff Member
  • Ambassador Viron P. Vaky
  • Guy F. Erb, NSC Staff Member
  • Venezuela
  • Carlos Andres Perez, President
  • Simon Bottaro Consalvi, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Manuel Perez Guerrero, Minister of State for International Economic Affairs
  • Valentin Acosta Hernandez, Minister of Energy and Mines
  • Carmelo Lesseur Lauria, Minister, Secretariat of the Presidency
  • Hector Hurtado, Minister of State, President of the Investment Fund
  • Ambassador Ignacio Iribarren
  • Dr. Reinaldo Figuerido, Director of Foreign Trade Institute

After exchanging cordialities, President Perez asked about President Carter’s preference with regard to an agenda. President Carter said that he would like to discuss international political issues today and economic issues tomorrow.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to conventional arms transfers.]

Conventional Arms Restraint

Perez raised the issue of the arms race in the Andes. He said that Venezuela had called a meeting based on the Ayacucho Declaration,2

[Page 713]which is dormant. The problem is that if the U.S. doesn’t sell arms to the region, the Europeans (and the Soviets, President Carter added) do. Perez said that “we cannot remain with our arms folded”. In answer to a question by President Carter on how Ayacucho could be reactivated, Perez said that they could propose a meeting, but the situation is complicated by the breaking of relations between Bolivia and Chile.3

President Carter said that in the last five years, Latin America has purchased $7 billion worth of weapons. The U.S. has become a smaller supplier because of its arms restraint policy, selling less than Britain, France, or the Soviets. We would like to reduce our arms sales even more, though there is a limit on how far we can go because of private interests. We would welcome Perez’ ideas on reviving Ayacucho.

Perez said he would support the President’s policies on arms restraint and try to get them adopted by other countries, but he needed more information.

The President said he would send the U.S. arms sales policy statement,4 and that perhaps it could be used as a model or a voluntary formula. Recently, the U.S. asked Mexico to reassess its defense needs and President Jose Lopez Portillo withdrew his request. It would be beneficial to pursue this as a prelude to the U.N. Special Session on Disarmament.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to conventional arms transfers.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Office File, Country Chron File, Box 56, Venezuela, 1–4/78. Confidential. The meeting occurred at the Miraflores Palace. Carter was in Caracas on March 28 and 29. In a follow-up meeting with Perez on April 28, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs Viron Vaky said the United States supported Perez’s call for “regional restraint, tying this to the larger US effort to encourage multilateral restraint.” (Telegram 4012 from Caracas, April 29; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780187–0874)
  2. Declaration signed by Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela on December 9, 1974 urging “the creation of a permanent order of international peace and cooperation and to create conditions that permit the effective limitation of armaments and put an end to their acquisition for offensive warlike ends, in order to dedicate all possible resources to the economic and social development of each of the countries of Latin America.” (Documents on Disarmament, 1974, pp. 819–822)
  3. Bolivian President Hugo Banzer broke relations with Chile on March 21.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 271.