182. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kaysen)0


  • Tunisian Aid Determination Meeting

I realize tomorrow’s meeting on the Tunisian Determination will deal chiefly with the technical problem of whether to commit our aid [Page 273] under Section 202b or NSC 1550.1 However, would you put in a word for the mounting political problem our repeated delays are creating in Tunis? From the Tunisian point of view, we look increasingly muddled when we can’t yet state publicly what we told them privately four months ago.2

As you recall, the Patterson Survey Team submitted its appraisal of the Tunisian Plan on 20 December. On 21 February Hutchinson told Plan Secretary Ben Salah informally that AID would recommend a Presidential determination authorizing a $180 million commitment, as soon as Salah furnished certain specific assurances and a copy of the plan. Both were received by 30 March and AID began preparing determination papers. With AID’s concurrence, Walmsley told Bourguiba we expected to make our commitment public in time for his National Assembly debate on Plan about 15 May. The Assembly on 30 May finally approved the Plan despite lack of public justification for including a substantial foreign contribution. Finally, on 13 June, State with AID concurrence authorized Walmsley to reassure the Tunisians privately that they could count on $180 million, but to say we still couldn’t announce this. On 16 June the Tunisians made their latest plea for an announcement the week of 1 July (Tunis 1268,3 12984 attached).

[Page 274]

Serious precedents are admittedly involved here. But three months seems a long time to settle them when AID decided back in February to make this commitment.5

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Brubeck Series, North Africa. Confidential. Copies were sent to Dungan and Amory. A handwritten notation at the bottom of the source text, presumably by Kaysen, reads: “Agreed.”
  2. Section 202b of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195) stipulated that whenever the President determined that it was important to the advancement of U.S. interests, he was authorized to enter into agreements committing funds authorized to be appropriated under this title, subject only to the annual appropriation of such funds. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, p. 1270. NSC 1550 stipulated that no foreign assistance could be offered without determining whether such aid was in accordance with approved policy, whether Congress had approved or appropriated funds, whether the recipient country could support the aid programs, and the probable duration of the assistance. (Department of State,S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action of the National Security Council)
  3. The Department of State announced on February 21, 1962, that during AID discussions with Ben Salah in Washington, it had been agreed that the United States would support Tunisia’s long-term economic development effort and that formal agreement on the nature and extent of this U.S. assistance would be reached during the coming weeks. For text of the statement, see Department of State Bulletin, March 12, 1962, p. 425.
  4. Telegram 1268 from Tunis, June 16, reported that Ladgham had made a strong plea for the United States to make public its economic assistance to Tunisia before July 1 on the grounds that this would greatly strengthen Tunisia’s public posture and permit it to be more flexible in its military negotiations with France in July. (Department of State, Central Files, 872.00-Three Year/6-1662)
  5. Telegram 1298 from Tunis, June 23, reported that Bourguiba’s special adviser Hourani had reiterated Ladgham’s plea, saying that Bourguiba felt a strong need for such a show of U.S. support for its psychological impact on the Tunisian public. (Ibid., 811.00/6-2362)
  6. On July 29, AID announced a U.S. commitment of $180 million in aid in support of Tunisia’s $785 million Three-Year Plan, a commitment that included all forms of U.S. aid except that provided under P.L. 480 Titles I and II. (Circular telegram 169, August 1; ibid., 811.0072/8-162)