770.5/8–2551: Telegram

The Consul General at Nairobi (Ward) to the Department of State


14. Pass to Defense. From Ward, Bland and Davis. African defense facilities conf opened formally August 21.1 At instance Portuguese, [Page 1229] acts limited to making recommendations to respective govts. Scope limited to need for interchange info on existing and projected transportation and telecommunication facilities and to principles governing reciprocal use these facilities for northward movement supplies and personnel in time of war. Adjournment on or before September 1 possible.

Belgians realistic regarding possibility military need these facilities, but passive except in air transport and telecommunications.

Ethiopians completely passive and mute.

French realistic like Belgians and constantly advocate suppression all other considerations in time war to that of furthering war effort. Are somewhat active in sea transport affecting Madagascar, and more active in land and air transport, and telecommunications on African continent. They indicate anticipation that any unrealistic Nairobi recommendations on use African facilities may and probably will be set aside in time war by major power decisions at high level.

Italians passive other than in movement of supplies and personnel, and occasionally infer NATO and other high level bodies will in end establish principles governing use African facilities.

Portuguese strongly indicate anticipation their belligerency or benevolent neutrality in case war. They anticipate slight wartime use by selves of their African facilities but extensive use these facilities by other powers. They are exerting every effort to avoid escapable financial obligations and to obviate economic disturbance by others. They evidently want no foreign troops or avoidable foreign installations in their African dependencies and repeatedly indicate expectation full compensation for use their facilities, etc., by others.

Southern Rhodesians not subservient to either South Africa [or] UK.

They indicate aversion having their civil administration or internal economy domineered by military in time war. Beyond any wartime manpower obligation, they anticipate their primary wartime role being that of supplier raw materials and of transit channels of troops and military supplies.

East Africans and Northern Rhodesians are integral part of UK delegation in thinking and actions. UK actively interested in having all seaports, anchorages and airports being made reciprocally available on most favorable basis. UK constantly endeavors take safeguards looking toward minimum disturbance trade and internal economy by wartime activities. There has been almost complete reciprocal support between UK and SA.

South Africans are prime mover in conference and use every opportunity to influence it toward facilitating northward movement their troops and supplies with maximum cooperation by others. They vigorously [Page 1230] oppose any attempt by others to bring mention of NATO agreements into discussions. [Ward, Bland, and Davis.]

  1. Regarding the Conference under reference, see the editorial note, supra.