242. Memorandum of Meeting1

MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT ON GHANA

PRESENT

  • Secretary of State, Mr. McCone, Under Secretary Harriman, Governor Williams, Edgar Kaiser, Chad Calhoun, William Brubeck, Ambassador Mahoney

Kaiser reported on his talks with Nkrumah 2 concluding that he is not at all confident that, even if Kaiser builds the smelter and starts operations, Nkrumah will make it tolerable for them to stay in business in Ghana.

The President asked if this is still a sound project economically and Kaiser said definitely yes.

Secretary Rusk asked what were the strongest assurances Nkrumah gave Kaiser with regard to maintaining good relations with the U.S. Kaiser said Nkrumah reiterated several times his need for private investment and his intention to prevent attacks and demonstrations against the U.S.

The President asked whether the alleged role of the CIA in Ghana is a matter of great concern to Nkrumah. Kaiser said that it was a major factor in his attitude and McCone agreed.

The President asked if Kaiser would recommend a year’s postponement of further financing and construction on the dam, awaiting further political developments. Kaiser said no; we should decide firmly whether to proceed or completely terminate the project.

In response to the President’s further questions Kaiser said he thinks Nkrumah has moved further toward the bloc in the last year or so and that his attitude is worse now than it was at the time the contracts were signed in December 1961.

In response to another question Kaiser said Nkrumah believes that Kaiser cannot and will not get out of Volta unless the U.S. Government withdraws its support.

The President asked where else Nkrumah might get financing and Kaiser indicated that the 20-odd million of U.S financing still to come [Page 425]would be available from the Soviets, internal Ghanaian sources or otherwise. Harriman informed the President that U.S. withdrawal of Volta financing would probably not lead the World Bank to withdraw its own financing.

The President and Harriman discussed the timing of a Harriman trip to Ghana and Harriman indicated that he would go in the next few weeks, shortly after Ambassador Mahoney’s return.

The President indicated his feeling that the reports from Accra, including Kaiser’s,3 make the situation look now a little better than it did a week or so ago.

WB
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Bundy Files, Memorandum of Meetings with the President, Vol. I. Confidential. Drafted by Brubeck.
  2. Brubeck reported in a memorandum earlier that day that Kaiser had just returned from 2 days of meetings with Nkrumah. Kaiser had warned Nkrumah that it would be impossible to do business if hostility toward the United States continued. (Ibid., Country File, Ghana, Vol. I, Cables 11/63–2/64)
  3. Telegram 700 from Accra, February 24, reported that Kaiser had made clear to Nkrumah that the latter’s wish to meet with President Johnson could not be accommodated unless relations improved between the two governments. (Department of State, Central Files, FSE 12 GHANA) The Embassy commented in telegram 704 from Accra, February 25, that Kaiser had aroused concern in Nkrumah’s mind. (Ibid., POL 12 GHANA) Kaiser’s talks with Nkrumah were further reported in telegrams 691, 695, and 703, February 22 and 24. (Ibid., FSE 12 GHANA)