41. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Argentina and the United Kingdom1

87911. Subject: President’s Conversation With Argentine President Galtieri.

1. (S–Entire text).

2. The President telephoned Argentine President Galtieri at 2030 EST to discuss threat of Argentine military action against Falkland Islands.2 The President stated that USG had solid information that Argentina was planning to take military action to take control of the Islands, and warned that doing so would be a tragedy, and would gravely compromise US-Argentine relations. The President made a personal appeal to Galtieri not to take any military step against the Falkland Island chain and offered the USG’s good offices, including his willingness to send Vice President Bush to Buenos Aires.

3. Galtieri replied that he appreciated the President’s concern, but the UK had refused to relinquish sovereignty for 149 years and time had run out. He went on to refuse President’s offer of good offices and said the US appeal had been simply overtaken by events.

4. When President pressed Galtieri whether GOA intended to use force, Galtieri replied that Argentina feels free to use whatever resources are at its disposal, unless HMG that very night recognized full Argentine sovereignty over all of the Islands and agreed to provisions for turning over control within next few months. When pressed whether Argentine military would take action in the morning, Galtieri stated that GOA had full freedom to use force at the moment it judges opportune.

5. Following the conversation, the President sent a personal message to Prime Minister Thatcher.3

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Cable File, Falkland File 04/02/1982. Secret; Sensitive; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to the White House.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Reagan spoke with Galtieri over a conference line from 8:34 to 9:14 p.m., April 1. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) No memorandum of conversation of this telephone call has been found. In his personal diary entry for April 2, Reagan recorded his account of the conversation: “Last night I called the Pres. of Argentina—talked for 40 min. trying to persuade him not to invade the Falkland Islands (property of U.K. since 1540 or so). Argentina has been trying to claim them for 149 years. I got nowhere.” (Reagan, Diaries, vol. I, p. 121) For Haig’s account of the conversation, see Caveat, pp. 264–265.
  3. See Document 42.