Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Jernegan) to the Under Secretary of State (Smith)

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  • Roberts Field, Liberia

Last week you indicated to Mr. Byroade that you would consider presenting the case of Roberts Field, Liberia (memorandum [Page 511] attached)1 to the President for decision, after it had been determined what support you might expect from the Secretary of Commerce.2

It is not believed that support would be given by the Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Barringer, TRC, has explored the problem with Mr. Lee, Administrator of Civil Aeronautics (CAA)3 who would advise the Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Lee feels that Roberts Field fills no real air navigation requirement and that the substantial cost of rehabilitation cannot be justified on the basis of the safety and efficiency of US civil air operations between Dakar and Accra on the US route to South Africa on which Pan Am is certificated. Staff officers of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) informally advise that the revenue potential of Liberian traffic would not support the rehabilitation cost. TRC also believes that international civil aviation policy considerations alone do not warrant the expenditure. It is known, however, that Pan Am is strongly opposed to the withdrawal of US Government financial support.

NEA accepts the views of the Departments of Commerce and Defense on the civil and military aspects of this case, but would still recommend that the President be informed of all aspects, particularly the political, as a withdrawal of United States financial support of the field might be construed, at home and in Africa, as evidence of a negative policy towards Africa on the part of this Administration.

  1. Supra.
  2. Sinclair Weeks.
  3. Frederick Billings Lee.