6. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy0
Best reading on the Moroccan-Algerian affair1 is that, while both sides are building up strength in the disputed desert area and another [Page 11] minor clash or two may occur, neither Hassan nor Ben Bella really wants a fight just now. Both our embassies feel this way.
There seems to me little security risk in any case, except on the really off-chance that the few planes on each side get involved in deep strikes. But there might be a political reaction in Algiers to what these over-sensitive people may interpret as a pro-Moroccan gesture. They are pretty unhappy with us at the moment anyway, because of what they regard as biased US press treatment.
However, a remedy is to hand, if we could tell Algerians now you’re happy to see Ben Bella if he comes (we never got to point of telling them, because he postponed visit again just after you OKed seeing him). He’s due in NY the 18th (though another delay is always possible).2 As attached3 indicates we can arrange minimum protocol—we’ll bring him down from NY, chopper to the lawn (one platoon honor guard, no speeches), and then back again same way.
Latest reports also say Castro is not going to Algiers in November.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Algeria, Proposed Ben Bella Visit. Confidential.↩
- Serious fighting between Algerian and Moroccan forces in the disputed border region broke out on October 8.↩
- On October 17, Komer sent the President a memorandum stating that Algerian Ambassador Cherif Guellal had just informed U.S. officials that Ben Bella had definitely cancelled his U.N. trip. Guellal had also said that Ben Bella had much appreciated the word he had received indicating that Kennedy wanted to see him and that he wanted them to understand that the cancellation was caused solely by his problems at home. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Algeria, 6/63-9/63)↩
- The source text indicates a memorandum from Read to Bundy, October 12, was attached. Reference may be to an October 14 memorandum from Read to Bundy attached to Komer’s October 14 memorandum to Bundy, which provided an assessment of the Algerian situation. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 ALG) See footnote 2, Document 87.↩