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211. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between Peruvian President Belaúnde and Secretary of State Haig 1

H: Mr. President?

B: Yes, how are you? How are things going?

H: They are still very worrisome. I wanted to share some thinking with you and get your opinion. You recall last night we agreed to reconsider what we might be able to do.2 I think we came so close in the effort you had launched that it would be a tragedy not to keep that possibility alive. I am very worried that in the days ahead, the situation is going to become very extreme. What I thought was perhaps—just talking unofficially, ad referendum—perhaps we could get the British—and I don’t know that I can, but I could even have the President try—to offer to have a period of ceasefire.

B: That would be very, very good.

H: . . . during which a Contact Group, composed of Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, the Federal Republic, Jamaica and the US, would then prepare and put forward proposals to the two governments.3

B: You mentioned Jamaica?

H: To try to keep some balance and keep it in the Hemisphere.

B: That would not be to administer the Island? Only to advise?

H: It would be a Contact Group. You recall, when we stopped the discussions, the Argentines wanted to add two additional parties.

B: Do you think, in that case, it would be just a few days for a truce? How long do you think it could be?

H: Even a 24-hour period, after the Contact Group put together a proposal which we would then furnish to the two capitals from the Contact Group and during the consideration of those proposals there would be a ceasefire so we would have to move quickly.

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B: That might be a solution. Last night, Galtieri talked to me.4 They were discouraged; with the hostilities, the climate is not appropriate for any discussion. I am not hopeful. Two emissaries from President Galtieri arrived in Lima a few hours ago. I have not seen them yet. I am seeing Ambassador Ortiz at 3:30. I have to talk to all of them. Evidently, if the truce can be obtained, that would give the proper climate for further discussions.

H: Perhaps the British could make this initiative so the onus is not on the shoulders of Buenos Aires.

B: Were the British receptive to the 7 points?

H: They did not reject them; they did not accept them.5 It might be possible. They did not take them seriously because they did not think the Argentine side would accept them.

B: In those conditions, it’s so hard to get a solution. If one side rejects and the other also rejects, it is hard to get it started. Perhaps the solution could be proposed by a third party.

H: I thought it could be convened at the Ambassadorial level—here at the OAS perhaps—the six Ambassadors I spoke of who would put together a proposal drawing from the work you did to just put it to both capitals. During consideration of that, I would try to see if I could get the British Government to announce a ceasefire, or a standdown.

B: If the British would announce they are ready to accept a ceasefire without any conditions or without any documents for, let’s say, 48 or 72 hours, immediately I am sure we could set up the basis for a solution. But it is essential that they announce they are ready to stop. Naturally, the hostilities are continuing to go on. Do you have any news today? I heard about a Mirage plane being shot down and a small Argentine ship being sunk. I don’t know what to believe. The British say one thing, and the Argentines something different.

H: I understand there is a rumor in Buenos Aires that we were colluding with the British on the torpedoing of the cruiser.6 There is no truth to that at all. We are not providing intelligence nor are we collaborating on anything military.

B: I understood the ship was drifting—not completely sunk. What do you know?

H: I expressed concern to the British side and they decided not to sink it—they could have—but it is just damaged.

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B: Do you have any idea how many people are on the cruiser? I heard 750.

H: It’s closer to 1,000.

B: Very shortly, I will talk to the two Argentines sent by General Galtieri and then to your Ambassador.7 I recommend the British announce they are ready for a ceasefire for 1, 2 or 3 days. That would give us time to move around.

H: Let me do some further work. I have no assurance I can get the British to do this. But before I do anything, I will send you a message telling you what I’m doing.

B: Costa Mendez talked to our Minister this morning and while they were going through the 7 points, they got the news about the cruiser, and they ruled the whole thing out.

H: I can understand that very easily. I would feel the same way.

B: I think the next move should come from Britain—willingness to have a ceasefire. We know the Argentines are ready to accept it.

H: Let me put a plan together and be sure you are comfortable with it. In the meantime, would it be helpful for me to send General Walters to be at your side during this?

B: I don’t think it is essential because we can communicate by phone. There is always so much publicity. We can get in touch and, if necessary, something like that could be done. I have complete confidence in Ambassador Ortiz—he is a good friend.

H: He was very carefully picked for that position. All right, Mr. President, I will be in touch with you.

B: We will be in contact. Thank you for calling.

H: Good-bye, Mr. President.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Files of Alexander M. Haig, Jr., 1981–1982, Lot 82D370, No folder. Secret; Sensitive. Haig was speaking from Washington; Belaúnde was in Lima.
  2. A possible reference to the conversation between Haig and Belaúnde described in Document 207.
  3. A draft timetable for the convening of the Contact Group and the Peruvian submission of the 7-point peace proposal to the Argentines and British, as well as for the subsequent consideration of the proposal by the two parties during which a ceasefire would be imposed, was produced by the Department on May 3. A copy, bearing a handwritten time of 2:30 p.m., is in the Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Files of Alexander M. Haig, Jr., 1981–1982, Lot 82D370, No folder.
  4. See Document 209.
  5. See Document 205.
  6. See Document 210.
  7. No record of this discussion has been found.