7. Airgram From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State0

G-40. Following is text of letter I personally delivered Foreign Minister Naim February 21 setting forth current U.S. position on economic development aid to Afghanistan.

“American Embassy, Kabul, February 21, 1961.

“Your Royal Highness:

“During my recent visit to the United States, I took the opportunity to discuss with top officials of our new Administration the desire and plans of Afghanistan for economic and social development. During the course of my consultations, we reviewed the whole background and the pattern of American efforts to assist Afghanistan in carrying out its plans for development.

“At the outset, I should like you to know that I found great interest in and understanding of Afghanistan at high levels of the new Administration. On the basis of the Administration’s review of the current world situation, I can assure you that it is the continuing desire and intention of the United States Government to assist Afghanistan in concrete, practical ways in its own development efforts.

“I know that Your Royal Highness’ Government is now engaged in the complicated process of defining its goals and laying its plans for the years ahead in the light of the progress achieved in the years just past. With this in mind, it seemed to me that it might be timely and useful to examine in some detail the role of the United States in assisting in the economic and social development of Afghanistan.

“As you know, American assistance to Afghanistan began in 1949 when the Export-Import Bank made a loan of $21,000,000 for Helmand Valley development. Technical assistance began in 1952 with a small grant for an education program. From these beginnings, American assistance has grown over the succeeding ten years until, by June 30, 1960, approximately $162 million had been committed, including $23 million of wheat. During the current fiscal year, an additional $20 million has been committed, including $7 million of wheat, bringing the total to $182 million. Of this amount $51.7 million has been provided as loans while the bulk, or $130.3 million, has been in the form of grants.

“Equally important was the expansion of American assistance into wider fields. Whereas during the first five years aid was concentrated in the Helmand Valley project and technical assistance in the field of education, the succeeding years saw an expansion to include large-scale development [Page 13]assistance for the construction of roads, airports and educational buildings, as well as increased technical assistance in the fields of civil aviation, mining, agriculture and public administration.

“At present, all of these programs and projects are progressing. The landing field at Kandahar International Airport is in operation; Herat airfield is in an advanced stage of construction; paving is proceeding on the Torkham road and is about to begin on the Spin Baldak road while invitations to construction contractors to bid on the Kabul-Kandahar road will be issued about March 15 under the supervision of the Corps of Engineers. The new buildings for Kabul University are under construction.

“That is the situation at present. In considering the future, account should first be taken of the fact that all of these development projects and technical assistance programs will be carried forward into the period of the Second Five-Year Plan now being drawn up by Your Royal Highness’ Government. In the course of the review undertaken in Washington during my consultations, a careful estimate was made of the probable future costs, during the next five years, of completing certain projects and continuing existing programs throughout the period of the next Five-Year Plan. It was calculated that this will require approximately $85 million in new funds during American fiscal years 1962 through 1966. In fact, taking into consideration the accelerating pace of our construction projects, our own provisional estimates, not as yet legislatively authorized, is that an additional obligation of some $30 million could be effectively used during our Fiscal Year 1962. I believe it safe for you to assume that continued aid is clearly implied by these estimates, subject of course to Congressional appropriations. Furthermore, in anticipation of completion of the draft Second Five-Year Plan, our technicians have been working with officials of the appropriate Ministries to identify and estimate requirements for U.S. assistance in certain fields, notably education, agriculture, public administration and specialized training abroad.

“In the specific field of education, the United States has made an exceptional arrangement, unparalleled anywhere else in the world, whereby Your Highness’ Government has been assured that up to a specific sum (a little less than $17,000,000) can be made available, subject of course to Congressional appropriations, over the next five years for development and technical assistance in the field of education. This has been made possible by a special decision, approved at the highest level, in the hope that it would facilitate sound forward planning of development in this complex field, particularly at this time, when Your Highness’ Government is preparing its plans for the next five years. We have been able to make this special arrangement in the field of education because of our long experience in this field in Afghanistan, our knowledge of your plans and the well-defined limits of the field, combined with the benefit of United States sponsored specialized studies of Kabul [Page 14]University and of the development of primary and elementary education.

“I had the opportunity while in Washington to make known Your Government’s desire for a long term commitment to assist in the development of Your country under its Second Five-Year Plan to all the top officials in the new Administration who have responsibility in matters pertaining to foreign assistance. I found these officials greatly interested in being fully informed of this problem since they are now engaged in a searching review of our world-wide assistance program with a view to determining how legislation and procedures might be improved.

“The general desirability of longer term commitments is recognized and the possibilities of obtaining the necessary legislative authority are being carefully analyzed. This is a complex matter involving the legal distribution of authority between various branches of our Government. The outcome of these studies will naturally take some time. In the meantime the new Administration had to conclude that it was not in a position to make such long term commitments to any particular nation at the present time. Our inability to make such a decision at the present time of course in no way alters our desire to continue to assist your country to the limit of our ability, taking into consideration the total resources available to us for assistance to nations around the world in the development of their countries and improvement of the standard of living of their people.

“Furthermore, you may assume that my Government reaffirms its willingness to consider new projects, including design and feasibility studies therefor, submitted through normal aid channels for consideration by ICA, DLF, and other institutions. We remain as well willing to consider future requests for agricultural commodities to provide such supplies to your people and to assist in your efforts to raise local currency for further development. For the immediate future, I am authorized to inform you that we would consider without delay a request from Your Government for an additional 50 thousand tons of wheat under the same arrangements as concluded with Your Government on November 16, 1960.

“I am further authorized to inform you that we are prepared to furnish on a top priority basis the services of an economic advisory team to Your Government to work with Your Ministry of Planning in conducting reviews, not binding on either of our Governments, of development projects, resources, implications of development activities already going on, and feasible methods as to further future development. This is a normal approach which has been accepted by other countries to help provide the technical basis for decisions as to the future direction and extent of foreign assistance. You may be assured that such an advisory team would come to your country on a continuing basis, and with an open mind prepared to arrive at independent conclusions concerning levels and [Page 15]types of development, taking into consideration the availability of Afghan manpower and natural resources, and other economic considerations. The advisory team would be from a non-governmental institution and technical recommendations that they would make would not be under U.S. Government supervision or influence. I shall eagerly await word as to whether such a group of advisors is desired by Your Government.

“I am also authorized to inform you that my Government can make available an additional amount of $10 million for irrigation, drainage and other land and water development within the Helmand Valley. This amount will be obligated in segments over the next several years, and the first segment will be available for expenditure as soon as plans for its most effective utilization can be finalized with the assistance of our Bureau of Reclamation team now working in the Valley. It is my understanding that considerable progress has already been made in the development of such plans and we on our part hope that these plans will be finalized as quickly as possible through mutual agreement as to the best possible expenditure of these funds.

“While in Washington I was also able to secure approval on a previous request of Your Government that U.S. assistance be furnished to help in the establishment of a cartographic institute. Likewise the request of Your Government for assistance in establishing a film laboratory for the processing of film within Afghanistan was also approved. Appropriate officials from the Embassy, USOM, and USIS are prepared to discuss these matters in detail with appropriate members of Your Government.

“In addition, I am authorized to negotiate a $500,000 Educational Exchange (Fulbright) Agreement immediately, details of which I am submitting to Your Royal Highness separately.

“Finally, I should like to convey to Your Highness the sense of encouragement which I experienced in recently observing, at first hand, the intense efforts being made by the new Administration to make our world-wide assistance programs as effective as humanly possible with a view to advancing the world a little closer to the goals of peace, progress and freedom which remain a dedicated objective of my Government.

“Accept, Your Royal Highness, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.”1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 789.5-MSP/2-2161. Confidential.
  2. In telegram 789 from Kabul, February 22, Byroade reported that Naim expressed pleasure at the overall tone and content of the letter, but was disappointed that the United States was unable to make a long-term commitment regarding the type of economic assistance that would facilitate planning on the part of the Afghan Government. (Ibid., 789.5-MSP/2-2661)