31. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • Approach to Polish Ambassador Concerning Reported Polish Credit to Cuba

PARTICIPANTS

  • Romuald Spasowski, Polish Ambassador
  • Foy D. Kohler, EUR
  • Julius L. Katz, EE

Mr. Kohler informed the Ambassador that President Eisenhower had in principle approved the proposed $5 million credit to Poland, subject, however, to review by the new Administration. The reason for this, Mr. Kohler stated, was that subsequent to the Ambassador’s last call in the Department, we have received reliable reports that Poland is offering long term credits to Cuba at aid-type interest rates. Mr. Kohler called attention to the provision of the Mutual Security Appropriation Act of 1961 (Section 110)1 which bars the use of funds appropriated under the Act to any country that provides economic and military aid to the Castro regime. A problem has therefore arisen with respect to the proposed US credit to Poland and we require all facts regarding the reported Polish credit offer to Cuba. Specifically, it is necessary for us to know a) whether the reported credit offer is correct; b) if correct, whether the offer has been accepted; and c) if accepted, the volume and intended utilization of the credit. Mr. Kohler pointed out that it was fair to say that the policy established under the law contemplated that we would not give help to other countries in order that they in turn might aid the Castro regime.

The Ambassador stated that he had some information on the matter but preferred to seek full facts and instructions from Warsaw. He felt it necessary, however, to express regret that Polish relations with Cuba were being linked to a credit from the US to Poland.

Mr. Kohler pointed to the requirement of the law which has been well-known to the Polish Embassy and, we assume, to the Polish Government. Speaking personally, Mr. Kohler stated that he could not understand how Polish involvement in Cuba could serve Polish interests. [Page 67]Poland had no real commercial interests in Cuba and its aid offers to Cuba would be regarded as obviously politically-motivated and as unfriendly acts towards the US. The Ambassador commented that the volume of Polish-Cuban trade was very small and should not stand in the way of US-Polish relations. At the same time, he realized that the Cuban issue was charged with emotion in the US and unwarranted conclusions could be drawn with respect to transactions which the Polish Government regards as normal from a commercial viewpoint.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 748.5–MSP/1–2361. Confidential. Drafted by Katz and initialed by Kohler.
  2. For text of this act, P.L. 86–794, approved September 2, 1960, see 74 Stat. 776. Section 110 forbade U.S. aid to a government that provided economic or military assistance to the “Castro regime” unless the President determined that the withholding of such aid would be contrary to U.S. national interest.