62. Editorial Note

On March 26, 1970, Secretary of State Rogers sent to President Nixon a policy overview prepared in the State Department on the “U.S. and Africa in the 70’s.” The 25-page paper ranged over the full spectrum of relations with the nations of Africa. The essence of the approach to Africa, as defined in the paper, derived in considerable measure from a statement made by then Vice President Nixon in 1957:

“We seek a relationship of constructive cooperation with the nations of Africa—a cooperative and equal relationship with all who wish it. We are prepared to have diplomatic relations under conditions of mutual respect with all the nations of the continent. We want no military allies, no spheres of influence, no big power competition in Africa. Our policy is a policy related to African countries and not a policy based upon our relations with non-African countries.

“As early as 1957, when he returned from a mission to Africa on behalf of President Eisenhower, the then Vice President Nixon recommended that the U.S. assign a higher priority to our relations with Africa, which he recognized to be of growing importance to the United States. Specifically he said:

“‘The United States must come to know these leaders better, to understand their hopes and aspirations, and to support them in their plans and programs for strengthening their own nations and contributing to world peace and stability. To this end, we must encourage the greatest possible interchange of persons and ideas with the leaders and peoples of these countries. We must assure the strongest possible diplomatic and consular representation to those countries and stand ready to consult these countries on all matters affecting their interests and ours.’” (Letter with attached enclosure from Secretary Rogers to President Nixon, March 26, 1970; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 281, Agency Files, State, Vol. VI)

The full text of the policy statement is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Africa, 1969–1972.

In a letter to Rogers on the same day, Nixon approved the policy statement on Africa. In doing so, he wrote: “You know of my keen personal interest in relations with the African countries. We have both felt the spirit and dynamism of this continent and its people. I believe we now have a special opportunity to maintain and to expand our present relationships and am pleased that you and your staff have made so positive an examination of the paths that are available to us.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 281, Agency Files, State, Vol. VI)