AF files, lot 58 D 459, “South Atlantic Route Case (Pan-Am)”

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of African Affairs (Cyr) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Byroade)



  • Roberts Field: Liberian Government’s attitude toward our note of August 4.1

The Liberian Ambassador telephoned this morning and read the following message, dated October 16, which he had received from his Government:

“You will inform the U.S. State Department that

  • “(1) Defense Agreement of March 30, 1942, lapsed and became void six months after World War II;
  • “(2) (Liberian) Government has on more than one occasion called the United States Government’s attention to the fact and suggested a new agreement be made;
  • “(3) It is not likely that the provisions of the terms and conditions of the Defense Agreement could be made to apply to peacetime even if the Defense Agreement were extant;
  • “(4) (Liberian) Government would be willing to negotiate an agreement with the United States Government that would extend the privilege of the use of Roberts Field; and,
  • “(5) (Liberian) Government is presently carrying on negotiations with Pan American for operation Roberts Field after June 30, 1954, as a commercial airfield.”2

The Liberian Ambassador asked that this message be drawn to the attention of the proper authorities and that he be apprised of the Department’s views and reaction to the message.

You will recall that our note of August 4 to the Liberian Ambassador stated that certain repairs were necessary and that “My Government proposes to make these repairs at its own expense, provided your Government will extend for ten years, from July 1, 1953, the rights granted to the United States in the Defense Areas Agreement.…”3 Making the repairs contingent upon an extension of the agreement was at the suggestion of Pan American. The Air Force considered extension to [Page 517] June 30, 1954, desirable because funds would be expended on Roberts Field until then.

Since current indications are that the Air Force has no requirement for an agreement, I suggest after clearance with appropriate U.S. Government officials, the Liberian Ambasador be informed that:

the United States Government does not desire to negotiate a new agreement at this time; and,
the Liberian Government’s assurance that the field would be available to the United States in the event of a national emergency would be sufficient.

  1. Ante, p. 514.
  2. Paul M. Strieffler, a special assistant to the Executive Vice President of Pan American World Airways, was in Liberia conducting the negotiations.
  3. The ellipsis occurs in the source text.