12. Editorial Note

From March 4 through 11, 1982, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Thomas O. Enders traveled to Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina. He visited Argentina March 8 through 10. Summaries of his discussions with Argentine officials on Argentina’s human rights record and the situation in Central America are in telegrams 1401 and 1409 from Buenos Aires, March 11 and 12, respectively. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D820131–0466 and D820133–0169) During a meeting on March 8 between Enders and Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Nicanor Costa Mendez devoted to a range of bilateral and regional issues, which had followed a private meeting between the two men earlier the same day, the status of the Falklands/Malvinas negotiations was discussed. Telegram 1446 from Buenos Aires, March 12, transmitted a summary of the meeting, including the portion on the Islands: “This portion of the talk was almost exclusively devoted to a briefing by [Argentine] Under Secretary [Enrique] Ros on the history of the issue since 1964. Ros presented a picture of British intransigence. The GOA has long been willing to accord the Islanders every kind of special status to safeguard their way of life, he said. However, the GOA insists that the British recognize Argentine sovereignty in the Malvinas and their dependencies. When Enders observed that HMG’s position does not seem to be based on economic or strategic concerns but on its belief that the wishes of the [Page 28]Islanders must be respected, Ros said that UN decision on the Island clearly set aside the concept of self-determination for the Islanders. Ros said with emphasis that ‘the United Nations did not give the Islanders the right of veto.’ Ros stated that at the recent bilateral talks with the British, the GOA had proposed the establishment of a permanent high-level commission in London and Buenos Aires to seek out a solution. The GOA is now waiting for the British answer. Ros stated that his government is under increasing pressure from various sources to solve the Malvinas problem. Now the government is trying to see if the British are really interested in resolving the issue or instead are just looking for ways to procrastinate. Argentina is willing to do its upmost to find a negotiated solution but a solution cannot be delayed indefinitely, Ros stated.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D820137–0228)

The same day, March 8, British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington sent a message to Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig about Enders’s discussions with the Argentines, which was delivered by the British Embassy to the Department of State under a covering letter from the U.K. Ambassador to the United States, Sir Nicholas Henderson. In the message, which mentioned the “very helpful” meeting between Enders and Richard Luce on March 1 (see Document 10), Carrington stated the United Kingdom’s increasing concern about “the Argentine Government’s attitude, in particular about the threats which recur in the Argentine press (apparently with some measure of government inspiration) to use force if the negotiations do not soon reach a conclusion on Argentine terms.” “You will realize,” Carrington continued, in a passage that Haig highlighted in the margin of his copy, “that it is politically impossible for us to negotiate against such a background, so anything that Tom Enders can do while in Buenos Aires to bring the Argentines to a more reasonable and pacific frame of mind will be much appreciated by us.” At the top of his copy of Carrington’s message, Haig wrote: “Was Tom apprised?” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, P820044–1953) No evidence of a transmission of Carrington’s message to Enders in Buenos Aires has been found. On March 12, following his return to Washington, Enders sent a draft response to Carrington’s message, under an action memorandum, to Haig for the latter’s approval. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, P820044–1948 and 1949) For Haig’s response, as transmitted to London, March 13, see Document 13.