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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Kissinger hands over telephone transcripts
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
Mr Kissinger had fought to keep the papers private
Henry Kissinger has agreed to hand over some 10,000 pages of transcripts of phone conversations he had as US secretary of state.

The transcripts had been under lock and key in the Library of Congress since December 1976, despite legal efforts to gain access to them.

In a 1980 case, the Supreme Court ruled that the papers - transcripts made by a secretary who listened in on Mr Kissinger's phone conversations under his instructions - were personal, not government.


The telcons are a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour verbatim record of the highest-level foreign policy deliberations of the US Government

Thomas Blanton, National Security Archive
But a think-tank pressed the State Department to recover the papers, and after eight months of legal negotiations, Mr Kissinger agreed to release them.

The National Security Archive, the think-tank involved in the effort, described the papers as "a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour verbatim record of the highest-level foreign policy deliberations of the US Government".

Public access

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the public would be able to make requests to see the documents under the Freedom of Information Act once they had been catalogued.

Classified documents are declassified after 30 years, so even those papers should become available within the next few years.

Former US President Richard Nixon
The papers do not cover the Nixon years
The papers cover Mr Kissinger's time as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977, under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Dr William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive called on Mr Kissinger to release his papers from the years when he served as Richard Nixon's national security adviser.

Mr Kissinger was among President Nixon's closest confidants.

Argentine probe

Separately, on Thursday a judge in Argentina announced that he would ask Mr Kissinger to testify in an investigation of an alleged 1970s plot for South American military dictators to kidnap and kill dissidents.

There have been consistent allegations that the US Government knew about the scheme, known as Operation Condor.

Former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet
There are questions about US support for Mr Pinochet
More than 3,000 people were killed or tortured under the Pinochet regime in Chile between 1973 and 1990, while as many as 30,000 were killed in Argentina under the military rulers that governed from 1976 to 1983.

Judge Oscar Aguirre said his request to interview Mr Kissinger would be signed by Friday. From there, it will go through Argentina's justice ministry and foreign ministry before being passed to the US Justice Department.

Mr Kissinger declined earlier this year to testify in a French investigation into the killing of political opponents of the Pinochet regime.

See also:

29 May 01 | Americas
US bars Kissinger in Pinochet probe
06 Apr 01 | Newsnight
Henry Kissinger transcript - 4/4/01
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Kissinger suffers heart attack
10 Jan 99 | Americas
Kissinger played China overtures
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