280. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of State (Dam) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • International Conference on Population

On May 30, we received a draft position from the Office of Policy Development at the White House for the Conference on Population to be held in Mexico City August 5–13.2 The paper seems substantially to alter long-standing foreign policy in the population field as expressed by the President in 1981 at Ottawa; 1982 at Versailles, 1983 in a message to the Conference on Population in Brazil, and as recently as May 30, 1984 in a message to the Mexico conference.3 It is substantially at variance with statements that Jeane Kirkpatrick,4 Peter McPherson and you have made.5 In effect, the proposed statement asserts that population growth is irrelevant to development. If we go to Mexico with such a position, we will seriously damage ourselves in the eyes of our allies and our friends in the third world, not to mention domestically with key Members of the House and Senate whose support we need today for foreign assistance legislation.

We are having a real problem managing this issue since it is so politically charged and the Office of Policy Development has in its own mind closed the book on the issue. We have been told that Jim Buckley has reviewed this statement, likes it, and on the basis of it, has agreed to head the delegation to Mexico. We are also told that the Office of Policy Development expects to put its paper before the President for approval next week upon his return to Washington. The objective, as we understand it, is to gain a seal of approval from the President on the paper as well as on a delegation list sympathetic to this new policy. This timeframe will not give us sufficient time to comment and make appropriate adjustments.

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Accordingly, I suggest that you talk to Bud so that he can make sure the President isn’t blindsided on this issue. Then, when you return, we will be in a position to resolve this in a more systematic manner.

I should note that John Gavin has written a note to Jim Baker expressing his concern although Jim may not yet have received it.6 I should also point out that a number of key committee chairmen have indicated that they want consultations on this matter before we lock in on any new position.

  1. Source: Department of State, Files of the Deputy Secretary of State—Deputy Secretary Kenneth Dam Official Files, 1982–1985, Lot 85D308, Memos to/FRM S—Jan/June 84. Secret.
  2. See the attachment to Document 278.
  3. Reagan’s message to the Mexico conference is printed in Document 279.
  4. See Werner Fornos, “Stop Global Population Inflation,” Chicago Tribune, September 21, 1983, p. 15.
  5. See footnote 5, Document 274.
  6. Not found.