Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation, lot 53 D 444

Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Secretary of State1



  • Mr. Tannenwald2
  • Mr. Acheson

I telephoned Mr. Tannenwald and reported the substance of my conversation with Mr. Lawton and Mr. Foster.3

I then said that I wanted to speak about another matter which was the Afghanistan request for wheat.4 I said I had been over David Bruce’s letter of December 17.5 I thought it was a good letter and I hoped that Mr. Harriman would see his way clear to going ahead with the proposal. The Communist démarche on oil in the north had been the most serious in recent years. It had brought a stop to all activity in the north. I felt strongly that now they had asked us for the wheat, we should get along with it. Mr. Tannenwald said that Mr. Harriman had wanted Mr. Bruce’s and Mr. Acheson’s personal judgment on the matter and had been particularly concerned whether the foreign aid law6 covered this request. Mr. Tannenwald assured me that Mr. Harriman would take the matter up with the Pentagon and try to get the money.7

D[ean] A[cheson]
  1. Memorandum drafted by Barbara Evans of the Executive Secretariat.
  2. Theodore Tannenwald, Jr., Assistant Director and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Director for Mutual Security.
  3. Frederick J. Lawton, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, and William C. Foster, Deputy Secretary of Defense. Memorandum of this conversation has not been found in Department of State files.
  4. In telegram 254 from Kabul, Nov. 5, the Embassy had reported an informal request from the Government of Afghanistan that it explore in confidence the possibility of U.S. assistance in meeting a shortage of wheat grains estimated by the GOA at about 10,000 tons. (889.2311/11–552) Subsequent documents in file 889.2311 for 1952 indicate that the Embassy was able to verify the existence of the shortage.
  5. Letter from Bruce as Acting Secretary to W. Averell Harriman, Director of Mutual Security, not found in Department of State files. In telegram 254 to Kabul, Dec. 20, the Department informed the Embassy that the letter requested Harriman to support a long-term low interest loan of $1,500,000 to Afghanistan to assist in its procurement of 10,000 tons of wheat and flour. “Funds wld have to come from Mutual Security programs and difficult locate. Decision now up to White House and hope it will be possible give you very early answer.” (889.2311/12–2052)
  6. For text of the Mutual Security Act of 1952, approved June 20, see 66 Stat. 141.
  7. In airgram A–51 to Kabul, Jan. 8, 1953, the Department stated that on Dec. 31 President Truman had authorized a credit to Afghanistan of $1.5 million. (611.89/1–853) The credit had been approved the previous day by the National Advisory Council on International Financial and Monetary Policy in a telephone poll constituting NAC Action No. 595. “It is understood that the credit would be repaid in installments within a period of 35 years, including a 6-year grace period on principal and a 4-year grace period on interest, and that the interest rate would be 2½ percent.” (NAC Document No. 88, Dec. 30, 1952; NAC files, lot 60 D 137) For text of the Agreement relating to this loan, effected by an exchange of notes at Washington on Jan. 8, 1953, see United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 4 (pt. 2), p. 2941.