369. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State 1 2

Memorandum of Conversation:

FM Shafiq (Afghanistan);

October 11, 1972, 4:45pm;

35A Waldorf

Participants: Afghanistan, FM Shafiq, Ambassador Malikyar; US: The Secretary, Mr. Sisco, Mr. Laingen (reporting officer)
Summary: FM Shafiq expressed strong appreciation continuing US help in meeting Afghan drought and development needs. Afghans felt they had very close and healthy relationship with US. Afghan had lost some time in development because of preoccupation with “experiment in democracy”; said decision now made to focus more heavily on development as well. Asked Secretary to convey to President message that Afghans committed to “crusade” against narcotic drugs. Secretary said he would do so. Noted warm friendship Americans feel for Afghans. End summary.
FM Shafiq said RGA very indebted to US for its [Page 2] continuing help in meeting Afghan drought and development needs. Afghans very grateful for fact that American always respond with readiness pitch in and help when difficult situation arises. Said he was commissioned by his government express thanks to USG for generous US help.
Secretary said one of reasons why US—Afghan relationship good and Americans ready help Afghanistan probably stems from fact Afghans always express appreciation for help given them. This makes Americans want to continue this kind of association. Shafiq said another reason might stem from fact that Afghans, despite being far from US and next door to communist country, feel very close to US in terms basic approach and ideals. This made for very healthy and close relationship. Shafiq thought that occasionally it would be good if both countries could examine this situation deeper so as to focus more as to reason for good relationship and what could be learned from it.
Sisco noted that another reason why Americans feel warmly about Afghanistan is that they see there a people trying to deal with their own problems in their own way and standing on their two feet. Secretary concurred, adding that Americans sensed Afghans also doing this in difficult economic and political circumstances. Secretary thought this basic self-help approach by Afghans fit very well with approach of Nixon doctrine.
Shafiq observed that many people ask him why Afghans had not been affected by communism in neighboring USSR. Shafiq’s answer was that Afghanistan’s institutions basically strong and that if Afghan people continue to hold to these and try to progress economically, there should be no danger from communism or from any other quarter. Secretary said he thought perhaps there was some advantage to being as close to a communist state as was Afghanistan in sense that one understands better the limitations [Page 3] of communism the closer one gets to it. It was difficult to see how any young person in any society could feel attracted to a system so totally disciplined as communism. This particularly true when communism continues to fall short of material goals it sets for itself.
Shafiq said that Afghanistan nonetheless would be in difficulty if it could not begin to make substantial progress meeting needs of its people. He commented that because of preoccupation with “experiment in democracy” Afghan had lost some time in development. Now, however, it had come to realization that it must also focus more on development. In this process Shafiq hoped US would continue to help.
Conversation also included discussion between FM and Secretary on considerable Afghan potential in mineral resources and in tourism. Secretary also asked about Afghan population growth rate, observing that it of interest that those countries that have done well in development by and large are those that have found way to cope with population problem. Shafiq said Afghanistan had only begun to tackle this problem but noted that a recent report he had seen indicated Afghans responding well to population control ideas despite conservative orientated Afghan society.
Shafiq volunteered that in conversation a year ago Secretary had raised narcotic drugs problem with him. He wanted Secretary to know that RGA had taken considerable steps in this area. Two Cabinet committees had been formed, one to look into possibilities crop substitution and the other into smuggling problems. Crop substitution would be difficult because two principal districts where opium grown were areas where other crops did not do well. Also people in those areas appeared to be dependent to considerable degree on use of opium themselves. With respect smuggling problem, there was risk that international traffikers were moving their operations [Page 4] toward Iran and Afghanistan. RGA wanted to “kill this in the bud” before it got started. Summing up, Shafiq said he knew President Nixon was deepy concerned with this problem and HM the King wanted President to know that RGA embarked on “crusade” on this matter. It hoped to have detailed blueprint of action shortly and may be asking American friends to help in this plan Secretary assured Shafiq we would be responsive and looked forward to working closely with RGA on this problem.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 AFG. Limited Official Use. Also numbered USUN 3836. Rogers and Shafiq were in New York for the autumn session of the UN General Assembly.
  2. Rogers met with Foreign Minister Shafiq at the United Nations to discuss U.S.-Afghan relations.