2. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Fredericks) to Secretary of State Rusk 0
- Regional Conference—Nicosia1
Although Governor Williams on his return will no doubt wish to report personally on the views of our ambassadors to Northern African countries expressed during the Nicosia conference, I believe that meanwhile you will find of great interest the records of that conference here attached. One is in the form of a signed memorandum from the ambassadors to Governor Williams highlighting the main points which they wished to have emphasized for the Department’s benefit. The other is a summary of the discussions during the conference.2
I would like to call your attention to the following points in particular:
- The consensus of the conference was that the AFN countries are not irrevocably committed to the Soviet bloc nor are they safely aligned with the Free World.
- The two major motivations in the area are nationalism and the demand of the people for a better life. When a choice has to be made between what is economically rational and politically expedient, we must expect that nationalism will cause political expediency to win out every time.
- Although all of the ambassadors applauded the criteria for economic development assistance in the new AID program, it was the general view that in this area as a whole the outlook is bleak for the states concerned to meet the self-help criteria. At the same time, AID remains vital for political reasons, and, where we have military bases, for that reason as well.
- The maintenance of U.S. military bases in the AFN area is contrary to the tide of nationalism sweeping through those countries. Nevertheless, so far as the existing bases in the area have been given renewed strategic [Page 4] importance, we must presumably face the political and economic disadvantages of holding on to them. This may require our giving further economic and military assistance, or in due course altering our agreements to make them less offensive to the nationalistic sensibilities.
- The Bizerte crisis3 was a major misfortune for our relations with Tunisia and may necessitate a profound revision of our policies in North Africa. The Bizerte crisis has made King Hassan II of Morocco apprehensive of our reaction in the event that Morocco has trouble with Spain.
- While the countries concerned, many with authoritarian regimes and most with low standards of living, were admittedly highly vulnerable to Communist penetration, the consensus of the ambassadors was that the bloc had not registered significant success. The danger was an increasing one, however. The ambassadors from the countries surrounding the UAR (Sudan, Libya, and Somalia in particular) felt that Egyptian propaganda at the present time was more effective and therefore more dangerous to the West than that from the Communists.
- There was a unanimous and strong feeling that the ambassadors were asked to make too many demarches to local foreign ministries on behalf of international issues in which the U.S. has an interest for such demarches to be effective. It was suggested that the principal effort should be made in the U.N. (for U.N. issues) rather than in foreign capitals, that fewer approaches would be more effective than the numerous approaches which have hitherto been made, that arguments should be made shorter and simpler, and that more time should be allowed between the approach to the foreign government and the crucial vote.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1480A/8-1161. Secret. Drafted by Root and sent through the Executive Secretariat. Copies were sent to Bowles, Ball, and Johnson.↩
- The Regional Operations Conference held at Nicosia, Cyprus, July 31-August 4, 1961, was chaired by Under Secretary Chester Bowles and attended by the U.S. Chiefs of Mission from Aden, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, Tunisia, the United Arab Republic, and Yemen.↩
- Attached to the source text but not printed.↩
- See Documents 158 ff.↩