Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Richard S. Leach of the Division of South Asian Affairs

Participants: Afghan Representatives:
The Appointed Ambassador, H.R.H. Mohamed Naim Khan
H. E. Abdul Majid Khan, Minister of National Economy
Mr. Mohammed Chouaib, the Counselor
Mr. Abdul Hai Azziz Khan, the First Undersecretary of National Economy
SOA: Messers. Mathews1 and Leach

Pursuing a conversation today in Mr. Hare’s2 office, and after commenting on Afghanistan’s economic problems, the Afghan representatives reverted to the security position of the country, internally and externally.

H. E. Majid said Afghanistan had a small army, which had been able to control the internal situation up to the partition of India. Now the situation is altered. Formerly these forces could cope with internal difficulties on one front. Now Afghanistan might have to deal with difficulties single-handed and simultaneously in two or more areas. Afghanistan’s armaments lag far behind those of her neighbors, and supplies from India have not been forthcoming. During the past year they have been nil. In the South and East there are armed tribesmen who of necessity are accustomed to living by their guns. The economy of this area is backward, even by Afghan standards. As a rusty gun is dangerous to the owner and his neighbors a “rusty” economy is likewise full of peril. Afghanistan has no adequate defenses in the north, [Page 492] nor even proper local security forces. A small revolt in any part of the country could be extremely dangerous to overall stability, because this would necessitate troop withdrawals from other areas of potential disorder.

Afghanistan urgently wants U.S. arms to maintain internal security for the reasons set forth above. Secondly it wants U.S. arms in order to make a positive contribution in the event there is war with the Soviets. Properly armed, and convinced of U.S. backing, Afghanistan could manage a delaying action in the passes of the Hindu Kush which would be a contribution to the success of the armed forces of the West and might enable them to utilize bases which Pakistan and India might provide.

At this point the meeting adjourned with arrangements for further talks left between the representatives of the Afghan mission and the Afghanistan desk officer.

  1. Elbert G. Mathews, Chief of the Division of South Asian Affairs, and Richard S. Leach.
  2. Raymond A. Hare, Deputy Director, Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.