80. Telegram From the Embassy in the Ivory Coast to the Department of State0

182. Department pouch Bamako Conakry unnumbered. Joint ICA/Embassy message. Ten-nation conference including eight chiefs of state opening Abidjan October 24 (Embtel 181)1 generally regarded here as first step Houphouet’s attempt establish African Front independent of Afro-Asian bloc, and Houphouet has indicated privately to Embassy this is his intention. It is also clear Houphouet gambling political future as leader ex-French black Africa on effort restrain these states from openly supporting PGAR against France in order keep open possibility for black African play role in bringing two parties Algerian conflict together.

Short of change of heart by protagonists, Embassy believes situation unrealistic expect decisive turning point in Algerian conflict as result any initiative African states may take. On other hand, leaders of African states face grave risks regardless of course they choose since attempt continue maintain neutral attitude in Algerian conflict may result in loss popular support to benefit of radical elements, while support PGAR increases threat France will cut off economic aid.

In view of above, we believe it is now urgent we strengthen existing moderate and pro-Western leadership these newly independent African nations by announcement making clear US intention provide economic and technical assistance entente states. Such announcement should make specific reference types of projects under consideration and stress regional aspects ICA survey recommendations with view promoting and enlarging scope regional cooperation. Also strongly recommend we be instructed consult with Houphouet along lines indicated Deptel 129.2

As noted Embtel 165,3 Soviets due make appearance here immediate future. Embassy also informed Czech trade mission has been granted visas visit Ivory Coast next week. Since further bloc activity can be expected, undue delay US announcement may result its being construed as reaction Communist initiative rather than positive demonstration US interest in well-being these countries.

[Page 236]

Embassy believes that for maximum impact announcement should be made (from White House if feasible) early this week.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770.00/10–2260. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Paris and Dakar.
  2. Dated October 23. (Ibid.)
  3. Not found.
  4. Dated October 17. (Department of State, Central Files, 461.7041/10–1760)
  5. Letters of October 31 from Secretary Herter to leaders of the four states of the Conseil de l’Entente (Prime Ministers Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, Maga of Dahomey, and Diori of Niger, and President Yameogo of Upper Volta) stated that the United States was prepared to make a significant contribution to the Entente states to help accelerate their economic development and strengthen regional cooperation. For text of the letter to Houphouet-Boigny, see Department of State Bulletin, January 2, 1961, p. 19.