10. Memorandum From the Acting Staff Director (Lichtblau) to the National Security Council Interdepartmental Group for Africa1 2


  • NSSM 87

The Department of State understands that no substantive action by the NSC on NSSM 87 may be expected in the near future. Consequently, the question arises as to whether any action should be taken at the level of the Inter-Departmental Group.

In view of the substantial amount of analysis that went into the preparation of NSSM 87 and the wide area of agreement reached with respect to the definition of our interests in North Africa, it is suggested that the Review Group be informed of the Inter-Departmental Group’s judgment that although no further action is required at this time with respect to NSSM 87, the following consensus does exist at the Inter-Departmental level:

“Within the limits imposed by its resources, the United States should continue an active relationship with North Africa where it maintains appreciable interests. These interests include Moroccan and Tunisian goodwill and their general understanding of U.S. policies, access by the U.S. to communications facilities at Tangier and Kenitra, the improvement of relations with Algeria, the important U.S. private investments in Libya, and potentially important commercial and investment opportunities for American firms. Because of its geographic relationship to the Mediterranean, North Africa will also figure in wider U.S. concerns.

“For historical and other reasons, Western European governments may also be expected to be active in varying degrees in North Africa. Such activity may generally be beneficial to broader Western interests in the area and could coincide with those of the United States. Thus, while remaining mindful of its own specific interests and concerned with their protection, the U.S. should be generally receptive to Western European involvement in North Africa.

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“In our relations with area governments, changes in their internal character and possibly in their policies may be expected; we should avoid involvement to the extent possible in those internal changes and remain prepared to cooperate with all governments in the area in furtherance of our interests.

“Decisions on specific issues as they arise in North Africa should be made with the foregoing general posture in mind.”

Your comments are requested by May 18 on the acceptability of the foregoing procedure and statement of consensus.

George E. Lichtblau
Acting Staff Director, AF/NSC-IG
Extension 20857 Room 5238 NS
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 1–1 AFR-US. Secret. The minutes of the May 21 Senior Review Group meeting on NSSM 90, into which NSSM 87 was folded, are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970.
  2. Lichtblau reported the consensus of the AF/NSC-IG that, although no further action was needed on NSSM 87, the United States should continue an active relationship with North Africa where it maintained appreciable interests.