4. Notes on the Meeting of the National Security Council1

Discussion of North Africa

At the President’s request, Secretary Rusk sketched the policy framework within which we operate in North Africa as follows:

We have an interest in the success and stability of all four North African countries. We have been concerned over polarization in the Arab world which has seen some countries (e.g. Egypt, Algeria, Syria) drawn to Arab socialism. These nations have put pressure on the more conservative regimes. The Soviet Union has sent substantial quantities of arms to two of these more radical regimes—Egypt and Syria. Neither we nor the French know why they have poured so much materiel into Algeria, but it has stirred up instability in Morocco and Tunisia. We have been in touch with the Soviet Union in the Middle East about possible limitation on arms. The Soviets are willing to see the area denuclearized but have no interest in the control of conventional arms.

Our immediate problem is to give King Hassan a sense of stability. Therefore, we have recommended a $14 million arms sale and a new food agreement.

In this process, however, we do not believe we should abandon Algeria. There are other cases around the world—the passing of Ben Bella, Nkrumah, Sukarno—where our maintaining a presence through a difficult period has paid off. Algeria faces a food problem like the other North African nations. It has bought 405,000 tons of wheat in the United States in FY 1967. We would like to keep a presence there to give us some influence while our private sector moves ahead.

At this point the President asked what the Algerians might be willing to buy in the future. For instance, we furnish India 8–10 million tons of grain and India buys commercially elsewhere. Although Algeria has bought grain here, would it buy more?

Assistant Secretary Palmer felt Algeria, if it needed more wheat, would probably buy elsewhere. When asked, he could not argue that this was because prices were better elsewhere. Whether or not we could make our Algerian sale conditional on further purchases is another matter, he felt.

Secretary Rusk concluded, in essence, that Algeria has all but met its requirements for this year, but in FY 68 probably could buy more grain in the US.

The President concluded by asking him to pursue that point.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. 4, Tab 50, 2/8/67, North Africa. Secret. A handwritten note on the source text indicates that the notes were drafted by Harold H. Saunders of the NSC Staff.