The Ambassador of the Union of South Africa ( Jooste ) to the Secretary of State 1
The Ambassador of the Union of South Africa presents his compliments to the Honourable the Secretary of State and has the honour, by direction, to inform him of the following.
In the event that the security of the African Continent is threatened by aggression from the North, it will be necessary to move troops and military supplies on the lines of communication between the Middle East and the south of Africa. During the late war certain difficulties arose over such movement and it is therefore most desirable to ensure [Page 1225] that in any future emergency the facilities for the movement of troops and military supplies throughout that area are kept at the highest level of efficiency and that any unnecessary obstacles are eliminated. With this object in view, the Government of the Union of South Africa and the Government of the United Kingdom believe that it would be of value to take steps now to facilitate communications in time of war between the following states and territories situated in or near the east and central parts of the continent:—
|South Africa||Belgian Congo|
|French Equatorial Africa||Uganda|
The Governments of the Union of South Africa and the United Kingdom have therefore decided jointly to convene a conference of African Powers, which, they believe, will share the view that the closest understanding should exist between them regarding the practical problems involved in the movement of military forces and supplies in the circumstances visualised. They propose that the conference should be known as the “African Defence Facilities Conference” and that through the hospitality of the Government of Kenya it should be held in Nairobi, beginning on the 20th August, 1951.
The Governments of the Union of South Africa and the United Kingdom have considered in detail the problems which might arise in the event of war and they have prepared the attached list of subjects which they propose should form the agenda of the conference. As will be seen, most of the subjects listed are predominantly technical and such as to give rise to problems largely of a practical nature, and will be of equal interest to the civil and military authorities of the Governments and Administrations concerned. The purpose of the conference will be to secure agreement in principle on the matters under discussion, leaving the detailed implementation of its recommendations to be worked out later by the authorities of the various countries concerned.
The Governments of the Union of South Africa and the United Kingdom have pleasure in extending an invitation to the United States Government to send an observer, or observers, to the proposed conference, to which they are jointly inviting the Governments concerned.[Page 1226]
The two Governments feel that the conference, if successful, will make an important contribution to the security of the African continent.
If the United States Government wish to send an observer, or observers, to the conference, the Governments of the Union of South Africa and the United Kingdom would be glad to be informed as soon as possible in order to enable accommodation arrangements to be made in good time. Owing to the restricted nature of the accommodation available at Nairobi, the participants are being requested that the number of delegates and advisers be kept as small as possible.
This note was delivered at the Department of State on July 11 by South African Embassy Counselor Basil Jarvie. Jarvie, accompanied by British Embassy First Secretary R. H. Belcher, called upon Messrs. Raynor and Shullaw of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs to extend an invitation on behalf of their governments for the United States to be represented in an observer capacity at the forthcoming African Defence Facilities Conference at Nairobi. Jarvie, who confined himself to a discussion of arrangements for the conference, indicated that the United States was the only country invited to send an observer to the conference. (Memorandum of conversation by Raynor, July 11, 1951: 770.5/7–1151) The text of the invitation to governments participating in the conference was sent to the Embassy in the United Kingdom under cover of a brief explanatory aide-mémoire from the South African High Commissioner in London on July 10; copies of those documents were transmitted to the Department of State as enclosures to despatch 190, July 11, from London. (770.5/7–1151)
In a note dated July 17, the Secretary of State informed the South African Ambassador that the United States accepted the invitation to attend the conference scheduled to be held at Nairobi (770.5/7–1151).↩