319. Telegram From the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State1

1457. For Aviation Liaison: Attention Ferguson from Boyle.

The possibility of exclusion of South Africa and Portugal from ICAO African meeting remains continuing threat despite conciliatory statement made at opening session by UAR on behalf of African states.2 African states appear adopting technique of walking out of committees and working groups whenever the subject of discussion is a route, circuit, airport or other aeronautical facility connecting Portuguese territory or South Africa with any other African state or which supports an operation from or to Portuguese territory or South Africa which overflies any other African state. They hope by this to, in effect, black out of the regional plan all routes, circuits, etc. into and out of such areas. Not yet clear whether this technique will be completely effective. IATA may be willing and able in the committees and working groups to fill informational gaps. Additionally, attitude of Portugal and South Africa in these meetings may be of significance. So far it appears South Africa will generally remain silent and not initiate any proposals, but Portugal adopting much more aggressive attitude which could cause more difficulties. There are several possible consequences this action. First, black out may be successful, thus meeting can only produce a regional plan not including South Africa or Portuguese territory which obviously of doubtful value, not what meeting was convened for and, in fact, not responsive to ANC directives.UK urges us go along with this result calling it “limited success.” Binaghi also appears to want us to go along stating that while this activity violation of spirit of convention and directives, he does not consider it illegal. Binaghi further says defective plan would be to Council and ANC where it can be dealt with.

Another possible outcome of walkout technique is that necessary information may be supplied by others such as IATA, South Africa and Portugal during absence of African delegates, and committees and [Page 565] working groups complete plan using this information. Since in all cases African delegates reserving decisions taken during absence, the reports of committees will then be subject to revision when referred to higher levels of conference or final plenary. Since African states have clear majority in these meetings, the plan will almost certainly be revised to again black out data for South Africa and Portuguese territory. However, in this situation, since basic plan had been produced, Council or ANC possibly could disregard action of final plenary and publish unexpurgated regional plan.

Another possible alternative is that a committee or working group, being unable to proceed because of walkout, will refer matter to sub-committee one, highest level short of plenary, where basic issue of expulsion may again erupt. Binaghi urging that this not occur since in his view once it is necessary to take a position in public, all African states will vote for expulsion. Binaghi states that he has been able to keep meeting under control only through device of arranging private African states only meetings at which their differences can be aired in private and in which moderates can be most effective.

It appears first test of last mentioned alternative may occur Friday. Working group referring to subcommittee one a table of aircraft operations and route map for region which singles out for separate decision 1) routes into and out of Portuguese territory and South Africa from other African states, 2) routes to and from such areas which overfly African states and 3) routes into and out of Israel which overfly Arab states. Binaghi does not believe expulsion issue will arise at this first test. US del proposes low key opposition to deletion of such routes on grounds that it contrary to directives of ANC, that their deletion would result in not planning for significant area of region, and that conference is not performing its technical function.3

Further general instructions in view foregoing developments desired.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, AV 3 ICAO. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Passed to the White House and FAA.
  2. In telegram 1435 from Rome, November 23, the Embassy reported: “At first plenary session of ICAO African meeting the United Arab Republic read the following statement which represented the views of the African states informal meeting held prior to plenary. ‘The African states regret the presence of Portugal and South Africa and wish to place on record that they will not participate in any discussions initiated by these countries.’” (Ibid.)
  3. The Department agreed with this approach, and cautioned the delegation to “avoid any situation that would produce walkout.” (Telegram 1337 to Rome, November 27; ibid.)