711.56376/6–2953

The Liberian Ambassador ( Simpson ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Upon instructions of my Government, I have the honor to inform you that on the 19th of May 1953, representation was made by undersigned to the Department of State in Washington concerning reports to the effect that the United States Government was considering the possibility of withdrawing its financial contribution towards the maintenance and operation of Roberts Field, which was constructed by Agreement between the United States and the Liberian Governments and was of strategic value during World War II to the United States and its Allies.

In the course of the conversation I had with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and African Affairs,1 he pointed out that although the Department was in sympathy with the position of the Liberian Government, he was afraid that as Roberts Field was not now of strategic importance to the United States Government, in the interest of economy he could not guarantee that his Government would continue its financial contribution.

However, he expressed a desire to be informed of the economic benefit of Roberts Field to Liberia, I assured him that I would represent this phase of the matter to my Government, and would thereafter advise the Department of State.

In a recent telegraphic message which I have received from my Government, I have been instructed to make further representation regarding Roberts Field and to respectfully request that the matter of financial contribution towards its maintenance and operation might be sympathetically reconsidered by your Government.

I am specifically directed to stress the point that the closing down of Roberts Field whose operation was hitherto given support by your Government would have a most disastrous effect on the economic stability of Liberia. It should also be stated that Roberts Field is not merely the only link between the United States and Liberia, but also the inlet and outlet for communication and commerce with Europe and other points in Africa.

The movement of American business men and those of other nationality including Liberians by air must also be emphasized. It is my belief, you will agree, that while Liberia is largely dependent upon America for commerce and other interests, the United States is also in a measure dependent upon Iiberia for important and essential raw materials, and while these materials do not necessarily move by air, it [Page 513] is quite essential that those operating these resources must have quick access to them. It is therefore clear that if Roberts Field is eventually closed it will require about twelve days by surface transportation for American and other business men to get to Liberia.

It would seem from the above statement of facts that the national interests of Liberia and the United States and their historic ties for over a century would require the continued maintenance and operation of Roberts Field which will undoubtedly be assured if the Government of the United States continued its financial contribution towards same.

I should like to be permitted to state that compared with expenditures for national interest in other directions, the amount involved in keeping Roberts Field opened and in condition for Air Communication and Transportation which are so vital to the economy of Liberia would appear to be infinitesimal.

I have every reason to believe you will agree that the history of air communication indicates that once a city or country is served by air, the commerce of that country never stops growing. It is most fortunate that Liberia has developed through its air connections throughout the world and to be now deprived of this facility can only result in a serious diminution of its commerce, which, in turn, will cause obvious destruction to the country’s economy.

Lastly, I would like to point out that Roberts Field may now be considered an International Airfield as presently it is being used for Civil Aviation, and in addition to Pan American planes, air traffic is being carried on the said field by Air France, British Overseas Airways Corporation, Liberian International Airways and planes of other nationality.

I avail myself [etc.]

C. L. Simpson
  1. A memorandum by Cyr, not printed, summarized the conversation of Ambassador Simpson; Reid Wiles, the Second Secretary at the Liberian Embassy; Jernegan; and Cyr. (711.56376/5–1953)