159. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams) to Secretary of State Rusk 0

SUBJECT

  • Aid to Tunisia

In a letter to President Eisenhower of September 22, 1960,1 President Bourguiba solicited additional U.S. help in assisting Tunisia to relieve vast unemployment through a carefully worked out development program based on an intensive use of Tunisian labor. In his reply of October 15,2 President Eisenhower confirmed our intention to maintain the level of Special Assistance at the FY 60 level of $20 millon and to consider increasing it following high-level consideration of Tunisia’s needs.

The Country Team had recommended an FY 61 aid level of $30 million. Because of congressional cuts and anticipated DLF expenditures (which have not materialized) the actual level was fixed at $20 million. However after the presidential correspondence mentioned above an additional $5 million was to be set aside in our contingency funds to enable us to meet President Eisenhower’s commitments. Recent reports from Tunisia have made clear that this increase is absolutely essential if crippling cuts—perhaps as much as 18%—in Tunisia’s economic development program are to be avoided.

Since the exchange of letters, we have carefully reviewed Tunisia’s needs and Mr. Tasca, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs in the African Bureau, made a special visit to Tunis where he personally examined the Tunisian intensive labor program. He was greatly impressed by Tunisian efforts and feels the example Tunisia is setting is one we should do everything to encourage. AF is convinced therefore that in order not only to honor our commitment without further delay but to consolidate our good relations with Tunisia and promote it as an example for other African nations, we should arrange as soon as possible to inform President Bourguiba that, in response to his request, we are increasing our Special Assistance in FY 61 from $20 million to $25 million.

We have been informed that other liens have already exhausted the contingency funds. It would therefore be necessary to review our [Page 244] resources in order to determine the means of increasing the Tunisian program by $5 million.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 772.11/3-1761. Confidential. Drafted by Root and Chase. The source text is attached to a memorandum from Secretary Rusk to President Kennedy noting that in view of the President’s interest in Tunisia’s economic problems and in the U.S. assistance program there, Rusk felt that Kennedy would wish to read the enclosed memorandum from Assistant Secretary Williams on the subject.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XIII, pp. 901903.
  3. See ibid., pp. 903905.