351. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to the Department of State0

528. During extended weekend in country where we were both guests, Eric Louw, Minister External Affairs, had three long talks with me about what he said are deteriorating relations between our two countries.

He blamed US press and American committee on Africa for grossly misleading American public on true state of affairs here, and went on to add that State Department’s recent decision to admit Oliver Tambo1 who he says is Communist, was regarded by his government as unfriendly act.

He then cited South Africa’s firm anti-Communist position in UN, her armed contributions during great and Korean wars and his government’s present willingness to react favorably to our desire to conclude agreement with US on NASA and Defense. He added that even though many South Africans are commencing to think that a neutralist policy may be their only alternative, his government will stand firmly with West against Communism and that Dr. Verwoerd recently assured Macmillan to this effect.

He then asked me why South Africa was getting such bad press in America and listened carefully while I told him that in my opinion his racial policies will always provoke an indignant press in both England and America, and that until present government decides on less rigid attitudes toward non-whites he can expect nothing else.

Louw then criticized England for selling his country Centurian tanks which have little local use and said that after attending Prime Ministers conference he had sounded Belgians and Czechs on possibility of purchasing arms from them.

Turning to matter of his country’s relations with emerging black states of Africa he told me ruefully that Nkrumah had embarrassed him at London Prime Ministers conference by publicly taking back his invitation for Louw to visit Ghana. He also commented somewhat bitterly on decision of new Congo Government withdraw their invitation to SA attend their independence day celebrations and added that he had had a gold cigarette box made for new Congo Chief of State.

[Page 753]

Louw said that these new black states are ganging up against Union and he thought it strange that an ex-State Department advisor such as Ernest Gross2 would agree to act in behalf of such a combine.

Comment: Although we have officially disagreed my personal relations with Louw have always been good and I felt he was glad we could talk in relaxed atmosphere of country rather than his office. While he did not directly say so he inferred that Cabinet expected him tell me what he did. I also felt for the first time he really listened to my warnings about his country’s racial policies.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 745A.56311/6–3060. Secret. Repeated to London, Capetown, Johannesburg, Durban, and Port Elizabeth.
  2. Deputy President of the African National Congress; he fled South Africa at the end of March.
  3. Department of State Legal Adviser, 1947–1949; he was acting as Counsel for the Liberian Government on the question of South West Africa.