229. Memorandum From the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Prochnow) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1
- Air Transport Negotiations with Mexico
On May 28, 1955 representatives of the Department of State, the Civil Aeronautics Board and the White House met to discuss air transport negotiations with Mexico and agreed upon a procedure for continued negotiations without publicity or airline consultations (Tab A).2 During the intervening year the United States Ambassador to Mexico has been negotiating with Mexican officials and more recently directly with the President of Mexico. A number of changes in approach have been required in the course of the negotiations. It is now possible that the position which has been most recently presented to the Mexican President will receive his approval. A copy of the proposed agreement with the proposed collateral exchanges of notes is attached (Tab B).
Current Procedural Problems:
- In view of the secrecy which has surrounded these negotiations, it has not been possible to confer with the United States air carriers in the manner in which such consultations are normally held during the course of other aviation negotiations. Consequently the Department, the White House and the CAB are faced with the necessity of making an early decision: (1) Continuation of the exceptional policy of no consultation with the airlines with the consequent risk of airline and Congressional complaints against the deviation from normal procedure; and (2) Immediate consultation with the airlines with consequent intensified US airline activity in Mexico which might destroy the present possibility of agreement. The several considerations involved are set forth in Tab C.
- Several representatives of interested Congressional delegations from Louisiana and California have expressed a hope that they might receive an advance briefing prior to the announcement of the conclusion of an agreement. If the present draft agreement is accepted by Mexico, such a Congressional briefing would serve to establish [Page 728] fairly strong support for the agreement which would, in part, offset the inevitable procedural criticism should it be decided not to hold prior consultation with the affected airlines.
- Since satisfactory conclusion of the agreement may be imminent and because our Ambassador has been dealing directly with the President of Mexico, considerable embarrassment could result from any appreciable delay in giving our Ambassador authority to sign. In order to minimize possible delays, Circular 175 procedures should be initiated immediately and clearance be given to the attached draft agreement (Tab B) and full powers should be prepared for prompt issuance. This exceptional procedure would only be undertaken with the full understanding that any further changes in the agreement proposed by the Mexicans and proved acceptable to the United States would also be cleared under the Circular 175 procedure before the full powers were actually transmitted to Ambassador White. This unusual step is urged because the President of Mexico has, in an effort to achieve agreement, disregarded the urgings of his own Cabinet officers.
- On the difficult question of consultation with the airlines: in view of the overriding objective of obtaining an agreement, the more effective course would seem to be to maintain the policy of no consultation. However, this course runs the serious risks outlined in Tab C. Consequently, this matter should be fully discussed at an early meeting between representatives of the White House, Department and CAB. Such a meeting should preferably be called by the White House.
- There would appear to be some advantage in a briefing of the interested members of Congress shortly before public announcement of any agreement. This matter should also be discussed at the recommended meeting.
- Every effort should be made to put the US Ambassador in a position to sign promptly if and when he should receive an indication of agreement from the President of Mexico.
- The Under Secretary discuss with appropriate White House Aides Problems I and II with a view to having the White House call an early meeting at which representatives of the Department, White House and CAB may agree on procedures for airline and Congressional liaison.
- The Under Secretary agree to the accelerated Circular 175 procedure, and clear the attached draft agreement (Tab B) and direct that all preparations be made for the immediate issuance of full powers to Ambassador White should he report agreement with the Mexican President.