576. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1


  • AID Loan for the Congo (K)

Herewith Messrs. Gaud and Zwick recommend a $15 million Supporting Assistance Loan for the Congo. Joe Fowler concurs. Added to [Page 834] the $13 million PL–480 sales you approved in December, this loan would complete our aid package for the Congo in FY 1968.

The loan will finance imports of U.S. vehicles, machinery, and spare parts. This is primarily a maintenance loan, not a development loan. But President Mobutu is making a serious effort to get back to the development business after the mercenary escapades of last summer and fall. He has taken much needed monetary reforms recommended by the IMF and is working hard to control an unruly budget. Our past aid has given us considerable leverage in urging reforms. We would release this loan in two installments, making the second contingent upon a further show of responsibility on the monetary front.

Other donors (mainly Belgium, France and the EEC) provide 80% of current aid to the Congo. Our share is now down to 20% and will decrease further next year. (Last year’s loan was $17 million.) This proposal represents the minimum we can get away with if the Congolese balance of payments is to hold together.

There is no current problem in the Congo with the Conte–Long Amendment, which requires us to deduct economic aid in the amount spent by a poor country on sophisticated weapons. The Congolese haven’t made any such purchases so far, but they have been considering buying some Italian jet trainers. We are trying to head this off, and we would warn Mobutu that buying jets would cost him part of this loan.

I recommend you approve.


Approve loan2


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  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. XIV, Memos & Miscellaneous, 8/67–10/68. Confidential. A handwritten notation on the original indicates that the memorandum was received at 2:55 p.m.
  2. This option is checked.