124. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Regionals Staff Meeting1

The Secretary decided that:

We should present to Congress a long-term, e.g. 5 year, foreign aid program for South Viet-Nam which would phase down over the period. He wished to make certain Ambassador Martin approves the idea and understands it will mention low figures toward the end of the period.

[Omitted here are decisions unrelated to Vietnam.]


Secretary Kissinger: What I want at this meeting is to get from everybody a brief rundown on what they are doing of significance, and then I will take special items.


Mr. Ingersoll: Well, the one item I wanted to mention, Henry, is the approach to foreign aid for Indochina this year. I have been talking to some Senators and Congressmen, and the sentiment is pretty low on even maintaining the level that we have had in the past year. My concern is that we need considerably more if we are going to meet the requirements, particularly for South Viet-Nam. I have talked to Fulbright and a few others about the possibility of presenting a long-term, say a five-year program, with a phase-down, so they can see it is declining, as an aid in getting this year’s needs through. They are not optimistic. But they say it might help if we did present something like that. And I wondered what your opinion on this kind of an approach would be.

You are, of course, aware of the need for economic aid in Viet-Nam, to keep them stable.

Secretary Kissinger: I think this is essential. A five-year declining curve?

Mr. Ingersoll: That is what I was proposing to them. And they think it might help, if we present something like that.

Secretary Kissinger: I would be tempted to do it, because we could always go in for more in the last few years.

[Page 518]

Mr. Ingersoll: And if we can sell the Congress on going along with the needs, we should begin to attract multilateral aid as we go along and they begin to see the viability of the economy. We are studying this now. If you would agree, we would like to go ahead and work up something.

Secretary Kissinger: But make sure we find out what Graham thinks.

Mr. Ingersoll: I talked to him about it when I was over there. He liked the idea as long as we didn’t pull down anything from this year. And I wasn’t proposing that. We are going to have to go in with a massive figure this year.

Secretary Kissinger: I think this year and probably next year.

Mr. Ingersoll: Yes. But in order to justify it, we have got to show a decline in the subsequent years.

Secretary Kissinger: I am tempted by the idea. I think it is probably the only way we can get a large amount this year.

Mr. Ingersoll: I can see no other way.

Mr. Lord: Does the Ambassador feel that the South Vietnamese would see the logic of this?

Mr. Ingersoll: He thinks so. I sent our economic man from Tokyo down to get some figures and he worked with him on it. The only caution that Martin makes is don’t pull down this year. And that is not my intention.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s make sure he understands if we do it on a five-year period, it will be low on the out years.

Mr. Ingersoll: I talked to him about it, and I sent him a wire from Jakarta, or someplace, and had Edmund down there, and he worked with Edmund while he was there. So he knows what our approach is and he approves it. We will give him what we are planning so he is in tune with it. But I just wanted to touch base with you.

Secretary Kissinger: I think it is the only way we are going to get high figures in the next two years. And if I know my Vietnamese friends, they don’t believe a word we say even for next year—but certainly four years from now, that wouldn’t cause them any excessive pain.

Mr. Ingersoll: No.

Secretary Kissinger: All right.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Vietnam.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 2, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. Kissinger chaired the meeting, which was attended by all the principal officers including the assistant secretaries for the regional but not functional bureaus of the Department or their designated alternates.