198. Memorandum From Ulric Haynes of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1
- President’s Interest in African Affairs
At his request, I met with Bill Moyers this morning to get from him the President’s thinking on African affairs. Bill explained that he was discussing this with me because both you and Bob Komer were swamped with more pressing matters.
In the course of a dinner conversation with Bill last night, the President expressed his concern that the US lay a solid foundation for good relations with a continent which will become increasingly important. The President’s night-reading on African affairs had aroused this concern. The subjects of his special interest are summarized below:
African Telecommunications System—A proposal made by Ambassador Korry (Ethiopia) struck the President as worthy of consideration. The Ambassador recommended that the US establish a continent-wide telecommunications system for Africa utilizing a telecommunications satellite. Korry’s proposal came to the President’s attention by way of a letter from the Ambassador to the President and an Embassy telegram (attached).2
If, in fact, the cost of such a telecommunications set-up would only be in the area of $10 million, the President considers this “nominal” in view of the potential advantageous continent-wide impact.
I informed Bill that AID is currently doing a study on this subject. Bill asked me to inform AID that the President wanted to see the results of the AID study and recommendations as soon as possible.
- Tanzania-Zambia Railroad Study—The President has come around to the point of view that the US should cooperate with the British in doing a survey of the Tanzania-Zambia Railroad. However, this involves no commitment on the part of the US to construct a railroad.
- African “Problems on the Horizon”—The President is aware that we are in no real trouble in Africa at present. However, he is anxious to be kept informed of the “problems on the horizon.” Bill asked for a one-page memo for the President on this subject. (Komer-Haynes will prepare and submit for your approval.)3
- Presidential Trip to Africa—the President feels that of all the places he would like to visit abroad, perhaps an African visit would pose the least problems and get the greatest return. Bill and I discussed the possible timing of such a trip for the late fall just prior to the convening of the UN General Assembly. Bill stressed that such a trip was still very much in the “thinking stage.”
“Soapy’s” Africa Policy Memo—The President has read “Soapy’s” African policy memorandum4 and his comment was “carry through quickly.” Moyers shares our concern that the memo lacks specifics although no one can argue with the platitudes it contains. Bill urged that we light the fires under AF to get them to move forward with more preventive diplomacy to avert crises. He advised that where State seems to be falling short in protecting and advancing the President’s interests in Africa, the NSC staff should not be reluctant to take the initiative.
Bill was also as worried as we that “Soapy’s” recent extended absences (speech-making, etc.) are causing a slow-down of AF momentum.
- Presidential Pronouncements on African Affairs—Bill agreed that the President was anxious to make his own mark in Africa. Therefore, we should (even on our own initiative) find more opportunities for the President to pronounce himself on matters of interest to Africans.
Bob Komer and I will contact the appropriate agencies to get cracking on the President’s request and/or to inform them of his specific interests.