245. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • President Johnson’s meeting with Ghanaian Ambassador

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Ambassador Ribeiro of Ghana
  • Under Secretary W. Averell Harriman
  • Assistant Secretary G. Mennen Williams

President Johnson greeted Ambassador Ribeiro very warmly and throughout the meeting treated him with great cordiality. Ambassador Ribeiro for his part was also cordial.

President Johnson began the interview by saying he was extremely interested in good relations between our two countries. We have the same objectives. We want to give respect and be respected. He continued that he was concerned about the feeling in Ghana [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He said this matter had been carefully investigated and that he would be very happy to consider any examples of such conduct the Ghanaians might bring to his attention. [1 line of source text not declassified] He told Ribeiro that if President Nkrumah had any questions or problems he should see Ambassador Mahoney right away.

President Johnson then said he was asking Governor Harriman to make a visit to Ghana. He expanded at some length on his confidence in Governor Harriman, saying he had settled more disputes than any other American.

Ribeiro asked when Governor Harriman would leave. The Under Secretary replied that he would leave March 19th, spend a day in London where he wanted to discuss East African problems, and then fly to Ghana. Ribeiro was very pleased that Harriman was going to visit Ghana. He said Nkrumah knows Harriman personally and they would be able to “exchange secrets.”

Ribeiro pointed out that Nkrumah was worried about the unfriendly attitude evidenced by certain American citizens [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He said that before he left for Ghana he was assured by both Governor Harriman and Governor Williams that [Page 433][less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He said that Nkrumah believed what Harriman and Williams had told him but nevertheless felt there were some U.S. citizens who were opposed to him. Ribeiro said that Ambassador Mahoney’s fresh assurances were important to Nkrumah and the suggestion that they meet periodically to settle any problems was an important move. He added that Ambassador Mahoney was highly regarded, particularly by President Nkrumah who had “profound respect” for him.

Ribeiro went on to say these incidents had arisen because of Ghana’s suspicion of certain American citizens. He said the matter had been fomented by the press but that the press was now under control. If the U.S. press were reasonable there would be no more such occurrences.

The President pointed out that he knew of the commitments that Nkrumah had made to Kennedy and said, “I want you to live up to them, and we will live up to our commitments.” He again assured Ribeiro of our good will toward Ghana. He asked that Ambassador Ribeiro see that Harriman had a good visit.

Ribeiro said that he wanted to raise one more thing which was most disturbing, and that was Senator Dodd’s “witch hunting.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL GHANA–US. Confidential. Drafted by Williams. Approved in M on March 14 and in the White House on March 18. A March 11 briefing memorandum from Brubeck to the President states that Ribeiro was to give the President the February 26 letter from Nkrumah (Document 243). (Johnson Library, National Security File, Bundy Files, “B”)