128. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Hill) to the Vice President1


  • Communist Bloc Activities in West Africa

The Communist Bloc, as you know, has been displaying an increasing interest in the continent of Africa. In addition to various efforts at penetration and subversion in northern Africa, the Soviet Union and its allies have seized every opportunity to further their interests South of the Sahara. At the inauguration ceremonies for President Tubman of Liberia last year, for example, the Soviets sent a powerful delegation, sought to establish diplomatic relations, and made vague offers of economic assistance. We may expect a similar, or even greater, effort during the Gold Coast ceremonies.

Under these circumstances, I need hardly emphasize the fact that your leadership of the United States Delegation is considered by the Department of State as extremely significant in demonstrating [Page 373] the American interest in Africa.2 In order to keep you fully informed on this matter, we shall provide you with last minute information as a part of your briefing material for your trip. In addition to the oral briefing we are planning for you before your departure, we shall also be glad to arrange for a specific briefing on the Communist problem in Africa if you so desire.3 At the present time, we thought you would wish a summary of this existing situation.

The Soviet Union, Rumania, Poland and Czechoslovakia have responded favorably to the Gold Coast invitations to attend the independence celebrations. We have as yet unverified intelligence to the effect that the Russians plan to make a major purchase of cocoa at the time of the ceremonies, thus trying to make an impression on the Africans at a time that prices are down and supplies are fairly abundant.

After the invitations were sent out, we were informed that on British advice the list included only those countries with which the United Kingdom had diplomatic relations. As a result, a certain number of countries, with which we have diplomatic relations, such as the Republic of China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria were omitted, while at least one government which we do not recognize, the Chinese Communist regime, was included. We were not consulted on the exact criterion which would be applied in this matter prior to issuance of the invitations, presumably because of the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the Gold Coast. When we learned that the Chinese Communists were included among the invitees (and the Chinese Government excluded), we brought the matter forcefully to the attention of both the British Government and the authorities in the Gold Coast. We believe that it was unwise to provide this opportunity for the expansion of [Page 374] Communist influence in Africa and that an invitation to the Chinese Communists injected the East-West issue into the ceremonies in a manner which would not have occurred if the Russians and their European satellites alone had been invited.

Furthermore, the Chinese Communists since the Bandung Conference have made intensive efforts to develop closer relations with countries belonging to the Afro-Asian bloc and because of their Asian origin may be more effective purveyors of Communism in Africa than the Russian and other European Communists. They can be expected to utilize the Gold Coast ceremonies to extend invitations to visit Peiping, propose the development of cultural and trade relations and in other ways take advantage of this unique opportunity. We continue to believe that the attendance of the Chinese Communists is contrary to the interests of the West. Since they have been invited, our present tactic is to urge the extension of an invitation to the Republic of China. We hope that this may result in a decision of the Chinese Communists not to appear. However, if both Governments accept, or if neither accepts, the situation will be better than leaving the field to the regime at Peiping. We are naturally continuing to work for as satisfactory a solution of this matter as possible.4

Robert C. Hill5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 645k.60/2–1857. Secret.
  2. The other members of the delegation were the Governor of the Virgin Islands, Walter A. Gordon; Representatives Frances P. Bolton (Ohio) and Charles C. Diggs, Jr. (Michigan); and Mason Sears. Nkrumah informally invited Dulles to attend on January 4, but the Secretary declined on January 24. (Ibid., 745K.02/1–457) Dulles called Nixon on January 8 to ask if he were free to attend, but the Vice President was not sure he could. (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations) In a memorandum dated January 24, Dulles informed Nixon that the emerging people of Africa would “follow with particular attention the degree of interest and sympathy which the United States accords these developments.” Nixon called Dulles on January 28, and stated that if the President asked he would go. (Ibid.) In a memorandum for the President dated January 29, Dulles stressed the significance of the Vice President leading the prospective delegation. (Department of State, AF/AFS Files: Lot 60 D 37) Dulles spoke to the President in this regard on the same date and the latter promised to write to the Vice President to let him know that he considered it important that he go to Ghana. (Memorandum, January 30; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President)
  3. He was given a 2-hour briefing on February 25. (Memorandum from Palmer to Dulles, February 25; Department of State, Central Files, 745K.02/2–2557)
  4. On February 19, the People’s Republic of China announced that Marshal Nieh Jung-chen, one of the Deputy Premiers of the State Council, had been designated Special Envoy and sole representative at the independence ceremonies. Lamm reported thereafter that Nkrumah would not invite the Republic of China. (Telegram 166 from Accra, February 23; ibid., 745k.02/2–2357)
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.