The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Egypt
922. For McGhee from Berry re Amman tel 163, Mar 23 .1 Rptd info AmEmbassy New Delhi 1560 re Embtel 2256, Mar 25.2 Status report re Indian Food Grain Bill. House Bill still in Rules Comite. Leadership unwilling bring to floor before House Easter recess in view strong sentiment favoring recommendation minority FonAffs Comite to substitute loan for grant. Hopeful public reaction and current conversations members will turn tide after recess. Nevertheless, in view of urgency, bill may be reported out Rules Comite to floor next week if is possible postpone action on mil draft bill which now sched next order of business.
Senate Comite been waiting House bill. Now agreed proceed Senate Bill, probably Apr 3. Prompt floor action anticipated. Strength sentiment for loan not known but thought less than House.[Page 2133]
Lesser issues anticipated include requirements India lift embargo atomic energy materials as precondition aid, make more burlap available, pay in strategic materials. Dept opposing all. Major issue is loan versus grant. Dept standing on grant on ground essential India have all limited fon exchange and borrowing capacity available development program. May be necessary make some concession second million tons. Passage as grant, easy long-term loan, or some combination seems likely mid-April.
While plans laid for movement of first one million tons if aid approved, quantity involved plus India purchese program and other US programs place peak burden on inland transport, port facilities and shipping. Maximum movement through ports estimated near 1.5 million tons monthly. USDA will coordinate complex movement to have one million afloat within four months, which means delay in other US programs.
In view congressional delay great emphasis placed on shipment India purchase grain. Nine mothballed ships available by mid-April: 2 to 4 scheduled load Gulf, 5 West coast. Today ECA made available 6 additional ships for East coast loading. As of present, total of 15 ships committed by April 20 for Indian purchase grain. More ships expected later in April.
Telegram 163 from the Legation at Amman, March 26, transmitted the following message from Assistant Secretary of State McGhee:
“I am increasingly concerned, as I assume Department is, at slow progress Indian grain request now before Congress. I am not in possession full facts with regard Congressional situation nor latest info from India; however, I do not believe we can attach too much significance to pressing this request for early action. Action too late, if not too little, will deny us the benefits we should otherwise expect from our response. Failure to act will be confirmation to the Indians of what they have alleged in the past, that we talk as if we want to help them but do not come through. It would appear, too, that there is danger that the impetus of private and Congressional support may dissipate itself with time, so that the hope of securing favorable passage will be lessened.” (891.03/3–2651)↩
- Telegram 2556 from the Embassy in New Delhi, March 25, not printed, requested information concerning the progress of Congressional consideration of aid for India (891.03/3–2551).↩