81. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower0


  • Messrs. Dillon, Satterthwaite, Bell, Stans, Dr. Reid, General Goodpaster

Mr. Dillon said the group had wanted to talk with the President because of a new policy question that has arisen concerning our aid to certain of the African states. We are at the point where we should give consideration in policy terms to the question of aid for Mali. This is the first time we have addressed the question of aid for one of the new, ex-French states. Mr. Dillon said the French interpose no objection to our giving aid to Mali. Houphouet-Boigny strongly favors such aid as a means for keeping Mali oriented to the West and associated with the Ivory Coast. If similar aid were given on the basis of need to all of the newly independent French states, the total would come to about $35 million. He added that the French are continuing to give aid to Mali at the rate of about $10 million per year. He stressed the importance of acting quickly if we are going to do this to avoid the possibility of close ties developing between Mali and Guinea. This aid would be in the form of commodities produced in the U.S., including cement and POL with the counterpart funds thus generated being used to improve a transport route through the Ivory Coast to Mali. Mr. Dillon recognized that Mr. Stans feels this kind of aid should be given through the UN. The difficulty is that the Russians and Czechs are pressing to give aid which would tie Mali to Guinea. The President asked whether our [Page 237] giving aid would result in an advantage to us in relation to the Russians and the Czechs. Mr. Dillon said that it would, adding that the Mali authorities look to us as the leader of the West. The hazard is that if we do not give aid, we will be closed out of the area, as they have attempted to do in Guinea. The great danger of a Mali—Guinea tie-up is that there would then be a route leading directly into Algeria. Mr. Stans commented that this aid is very close to straight budgetary assistance since we are not providing a single tangible product nor are we developing a specific project. The President commented that in general he prefers the UN approach, and would rather like to see a temporary type of action until the UN can be brought in.

Mr. Stans then voiced several considerations which give him concern. He did not feel that the action is in accord with NSC policy since that policy states that we would not do this until we see whether the Metropole or the UN would carry the burden.1 He said he would like to see the proposal developed for further consideration. There are a number of aspects that need very careful study. Also he would like to avoid a precedent that would proliferate through all Africa. The President reverted to the idea of working through the United Nations. SUNFED has as its purpose the carrying out of pre-development surveys. He asked whether the World Bank and SUNFED have looked at Mali. Mr. Dillon said they have not as yet. He agreed that it is very important that they do this, but he pointed out that this type of survey takes a long time—a year or more—by which time the situation may have gone against us. The President said he thought the large number of small countries in this area did not make good sense. He wondered whether several of these could combine, such as Togo, Dahomey and Nigeria. Mr. Dillon said that Dahomey, Niger, Upper Volta and the Ivory Coast are forming an entente, with Houphouet-Boigny the leader. He thought that perhaps Togo may join a little later.

Mr. Stans commented that he understood the French to say that we should sell trucks to the government of Mali rather than make a gift of them. Mr. Dillon showed the President a message proposing a consortium for the development of the transportation program. He said the Africans complain that we study everything to death, and reiterated the need for quick action. He said that PL 480 does not appear to be applicable in this case. Mr. Stans suggested a shift of emphasis toward technical training, but Mr. Dillon noted that such activity would be the function of the UN. The President asked whether this aid is simply a token to get the Mali Government on its feet and permit time for the development of a UN program. Mr. Dillon said that its purpose is to start immediate action. The President commented [Page 238] that if this proposal is one for a year or eighteen months, that would be fine. If we believe that, while a UN program is being organized, we should put $35 million into all of Black Africa, he thought this would be a good gamble. He did not like the idea of putting up $2½ million now and perhaps another $3 million next month or in two months, and so on.

Mr. Stans said he would like to see this action, if taken, based upon a determination that the situation does not fit the NSC requirements, and does not constitute a precedent. The President thought the important thing is to determine what is the least to get the Mali authorities in the right frame of mind. He went on to say that the whole area is a mishmash of chopped-up geography. He would like to see emphasis continued on bringing the countries together.

He asked Mr. Dillon to work to develop as a basis for the determination the fact that we can do the job in no other way. He also said he wanted our Ambassadors instructed to see if they can generate interest on the part of the Africans in going to the UN. The President said that he thinks some of the Africans may be fearful that they will let the French Government “off the hook” as regards assurances that De Gaulle has given that he will aid them, should they turn to the UN. Mr. Dillon said that the State Department is planning that, when the President’s proposal for aid to Africa comes up in the United Nations, it will provide a basis for moving ahead.

The President said he would like to see us, and the UN, in placing the technical institutes in Africa, put them in the more friendly countries. Mr. Dillon said he would follow up on this suggestion. Mr. Satterthwaite observed in this connection that Houphouet-Boigny is emerging as the most able African leader, very pro-Western in outlook, and that his country is a point of strength in this area.

The President asked whether the assistance would be sent in kind, and was assured that it would be. Mr. Dillon asked whether the President approved going ahead on this basis, and the President said that he did. A written determination is to be sent over quickly.2

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster. Another memorandum of the meeting drafted by Satterthwaite is in Department of State, Central Files, 770E.5–MSP/11–160.
  2. The relevant NSC papers were NSC 6001 (Document 22) and NSC 6005/1 (Document 27).
  3. A memorandum of November 1 from Dillon to the President requested an oral waiver pursuant to Section 451(a) of the Mutual Security Act of 1954 (68 Stat. 832), as amended, that the requirements of the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act of 1951 (65 Stat. 644) be waived with respect to the provision of up to $2,500,000 in assistance to Mali, to consist of approximately $2 million in commodities and $300,000 in vehicles for internal security purposes. A marginal note states that the memorandum was approved orally by the President at the November 1 meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 770E.5–MSP/11–160) Telegram 84 to Bamako, November 1, authorized the Embassy to inform the Malians of the approval of commodity assistance and the supply of transport vehicles for internal security purposes and to announce that the United States was prepared to consider further economic and technical assistance on the conclusion of a bilateral agreement. (Ibid.) An agreement providing for economic and technical assistance was effected by an exchange of notes at Bamako, January 4, 1961; for text, see 12 UST 1.