224. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy0


  • Your Meeting With President Nkrumah of Ghana

You have agreed to meet with President Nkrumah of Ghana on Wednesday, March 8 at 4:45 p.m. Mr. James K. Penfield, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and I will join you for the meeting.1

Unfortunately, I was unable to talk privately with Ghana’s Finance Minister Gbedemah during his visit to Washington last week. Members of his entourage managed to be present at both our meetings.2 However, other officers of the Department did discuss general conditions in Ghana with the Minister. Following much the same tack as he did in the conversation with your brother Edward3 in Accra on December 12, 1960, Mr. Gbedemah urged the United States to be more aggressive or it would lose out in Africa. He deplored the progress that the Soviets have already made in Ghana and said that he was finding it increasingly difficult to make his voice heard. In a final conversation with Mr. Penfield on the evening of his departure, Mr. Gbedemah pleaded that you seize the opportunity of your meeting with President Nkrumah to review with complete frankness the various points of misunderstanding between us. We agree completely with Mr. Gbedemah and suggest you take the conversational initiative at the outset and raise the various matters discussed in the attached talking papers. Nkrumah should depart with no misconceptions on our firm support of the UN in the Congo, and with the clear understanding that while we are prepared to cooperate in every possible way to assist Ghana in its development we expect equitable treatment in return.

Our conversations with Minister of Finance Gbedemah last week were very successful and have created an aura of good feeling you may well wish to exploit during your conversation with President Nkrumah. [Page 344] Mr. Gbedemah will have reported fully on this matter to Nkrumah in New York. A detailed status report on the Volta Project is attached.4

Our past experience with Nkrumah has been that in private meetings with U.S. officials he adopts a conciliatory and receptive posture; but, all too frequently, he subsequently reverses himself and speaks critically of the West. If Nkrumah can leave Washington with no illusions as to the firmness of our policies and a clear understanding of what we expect of Ghana if our relations are to improve, we will have made a great stride forward. I would suggest an appropriate communique be issued following your meeting, tone and content of course depending on progress made during the discussion.

It should be noted that the attached briefing papers5 were prepared prior to President Nkrumah’s arrival in New York. Should he make new and significant policy statements during his talk with Ambassador Stevenson on Monday, March 6, or in his speech before the UNGA, we may provide you with supplementary briefing material.

Dean Rusk6
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 745J.11/3-761. No classification marking. Drafted by Toomey on March 6 and cleared by Penfield, Cleveland, Bell, Kohler, and Nitze. A handwritten notation on the source text reads: “hand carried to WH by AF/Penfield 3/7/61 per R Perkins.”
  2. A line crossed out in the source text at this point reads: “The Chief of Protocol, Mr. Duke, will introduce President Nkrumah.”
  3. Ghana’s Finance Minister, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, discussed the Volta River Project with Secretary Rusk on February 28 and March 3. The discussions were recorded in two memoranda of conversation in Department of State, Central Files, 845J.26/3-361.
  4. Edward M. Kennedy.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Attached to the source text but not printed. Briefing papers for Nkrumah’s visit are ibid. and in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Ghana-Nkrumah Visit.
  7. Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.