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


  • Afghan PL 480 Agreement

Secretary Freeman is ready to go ahead with the $4.4 million wheat and oil agreement you mentioned to Prime Minister Maiwandwal.2 Sharply rising food prices have triggered demonstrations in Afghanistan over the past two weeks, and Ambassador Neumann recommends we go ahead as soon as possible. Maiwandwal has just returned and can make good political use of a go-ahead to dampen fears of shortages.

His one comment under pressure at the Press Club3 remains an isolated incident. His public statements on the rest of his tour were quite moderate. Now that a couple of weeks have elapsed, we should probably go ahead now unless you are strongly opposed.

Charles Schultze’s economic analysis is attached.4



See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Afghanistan, Vol. I, Memos & Miscellaneous, 12/63–4/68. Secret. A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates that it was received on April 18 at 5:05 p.m.
  2. In an April 7 memorandum to the President, Secretary of Agriculture Freeman and AID Administrator Gaud recommend negotiation of a P.L. 480 agreement with Afghanistan. (Ibid., Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 26, April 6–30, 1967)
  3. In response to questions on Vietnam following a speech at the National Press Club on March 30, Maiwandwal stated that peace talks were impossible as long as the United States continued bombing North Vietnam, and he urged an unconditional end to the bombing. (Memorandum from Wriggins to Rostow, March 30; ibid., National Security File, Country File, Afghanistan, Visit of Prime Minister Maiwandwal 3/28/67)
  4. The April 15 memorandum to the President from Schultze noted the self-help measures undertaken in Afghanistan in the past year and recommended that the President authorize negotiation of the proposed P.L. 480 agreement due to Afghanistan’s urgent need for wheat and oil.
  5. Both options are checked; apparently Johnson checked “See me,” and Rostow checked the approval after consulting with him. A notation in Rostow’s handwriting reads: “Call Nick,” presumably Under Secretary of State Nicholas deB. Katzenbach. Telegram 185010 to Kabul, April 29, states that 40,000 tons of wheat for Afghanistan was approved that day. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, AID (US) 15–8 AFG)