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

Attached is a draft of remarks2 which State suggests you make at your Thursday, May 26, reception for the Ambassadors of the 36-member Organization of African Unity (OAU). (May 25 is the OAU’s third anniversary.) We have revised the remarks for style and agree with the substance.

Your remarks at the reception would (a) get across to Africans, who tend to feel ignored, your personal interest in their welfare, (b) kick off a new US policy initiative in accord with your instruction to us.

The proposed approach is as follows:

  • Part I states those principles of the OAU Charter which we share in common with the Africans;
  • Part II cites the developmental progress in Africa to which the US has made a substantial contribution;
  • Part III, holds out the promise of expanded U. S. assistance in the areas of regional economic development, education, health, and satellite communications;
  • Part IV announces that the US has begun studies of a new multi-national approach to aid for Africa and will shortly be consulting with African and other governments, as well as with international agencies.3

I have the agreement of the Bureau of the Budget to this initiative.

If you approve USIA will make a color film of the entire reception (most of the African Ambassadors will be in colorful national dress) for African consumption.



See me—

Following your launching of this revitalized US initiative in Africa, State will be systematically enlisting the ideas and support of the various [Page 325] African governments as well as the governments of the UK, France, Belgium, Italy, West Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan and Israel, among others, in this new multi-national cooperative aid effort. In addition, similar contacts will be made with the World Bank, African Development Bank, the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, the Economic Community of Eastern Africa and other African regional groupings.

We established that serious staff work on this project could only be effectively done—here in the government, with consultants, and abroad—after a kick-off of this kind. It gives you a powerful political initiative, with time in hand to figure out what it will cost and who will pay.


Remarks approved5

Remarks disapproved

See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol. 3, 4/2/66–5/26/66. Secret. A handwritten notation on the source text reads: “Mr. President—State Dept draft of address seems long to me and needs editing by Moyers. K—5/20.
  2. Not printed.
  3. On April 23, Rostow sent Secretary Rusk a memorandum reporting on a review of various foreign policy problems with President Johnson. In this, he noted: “The President wants as soon as possible a design for an African alliance for progress, perhaps involving the expenditure of several hundred million dollars over some years.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Rostow Files, Non-Vietnam, April-July 1966)
  4. This option is checked.
  5. This option is checked with a question mark, and a handwritten notation reads: “Must be cut.”