81. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • Revision of NSC 5820/1, U.S. Policy toward the Near East

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Gordon Gray, Special Assistant to the President for NSC Affairs
  • Mr. James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary, NSC
  • Mr. Livingston T. Merchant, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • S/P–Mr. Gerard C. Smith
  • NE–Mr. Nicholas G. Thacher

Mr. Merchant said that in accordance with Mr. Gray’s request made in early February when the OCB considered a report1 on the NSC policy paper for the Near East (NSC 5820/1),2 the Department was agreeable to a revision of the policy paper. He suggested that the State Department should undertake this revision which would then in the ordinary course be presented to the NSC Planning Board for consideration. The new draft would aim at updating language in the paper which had been [Page 249]made inapplicable by events in the area and would exclude the Sudan since this had been moved from NEA to the Bureau of African Affairs. In addition, it was contemplated some revision should be made in Section 23 dealing with steps the U.S. might take to insure that oil from the Near East remains available for European requirements.

Mr. Gray concurred with this approach noting that the prospect of expanding North African oil production made particularly pertinent the desirability of review of the section dealing with oil availability. Mr. Smith agreed but commented that it might perhaps be two years before North African oil production became a significant factor in determining our attitude towards the indispensability of Middle East oil.

Mr. Gray noted that, in drafting the report, the NIE now in preparation on the UAR3 might usefully be consulted as well as a study now being prepared by OCDM on European dependence on Middle East oil.4

Mr. Lay pointed out, and it was agreed, that the sections on Iraq might well be scrutinized carefully to insure their applicability to the present situation there.

Mr. Gray agreed with Mr. Merchant’s suggestion that a redraft of the paper should be ready in about a month’s time and that if it is approved by the Planning Board it should be sent to the NSC for approval by buckslip. Mr. Gray noted the possibility that the Council might wish to discuss some parts of the paper.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.80/4–460. Secret. Drafted by Thacher.
  2. OCB Report on the Near East (NSC 5820/1), February 3. (Ibid., OCB Files: Lot 61D 385, UAR Documents)
  3. Document 51.
  4. NIE 36–60, “The Outlook for the UAR,” April 26. (Department of State, INR Files)
  5. See Document 65.