124. Telegram 156311 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Tunisia1

156311. Subject: Mr. Habib’s Meeting with Ambassador Hedda, June 23.

1. Mr. Habib called in Ambassador Hedda June 23 to inform him of results of review of U.S. security and economic assistance policy for Tunisia. At close of meeting, following aide-mémoire was given to Ambassador. (Memcon on meeting will be provided septel.)

Quote: Aide-Mémoire

The Department of State appreciated the frank and candid presentation of the Tunisian Government’s security and development concerns which was outlined in Ambassador Hedda’s meeting with Mr. Sisco on May 10.

Following this presentation, the Department initiated an in depth review of ways in which the United States Government might be helpful in aiding Tunisia in these times of need.

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Interim Events

The Department of State has been informed that the Government of Tunisia intends to purchase the Chaparral and a number of other defense items.

Mr. John Reed, Director of DOD/ISA/AF, and Mr. Roy Betteley, Chief of Europe/Africa Division DOD/DSAA, have recently concluded a three-day visit to Tunis during which Tunisia’s needs were discussed in detail with the Ministry of Defense.

The Department of Defense is now preparing price and availability data requested by the Tunisian Government on specific items, including a list of ammunition requirements which was submitted in early May. Some of this has already been forwarded to the Tunisian Government, and it is hoped the remainder will be ready shortly.

The Tunisian Government has requested an increase in projected FMS financing during FY 70–80 from 75 to 100 million dollars, in order to finance these acquisitions.

Results of Review

A. Security Assistance—The Department of State has examined Tunisia’s requests (defense requirements and credit needs) and finds them reasonable.

The Department of State will make every effort to make these requested items available to Tunisia, at the earliest feasible date and at lowest costs permissible under U.S. laws, although delivery dates for most items will not be soon and costs may be higher than expected.

With respect to FMS financing levels, it is not possible to obtain increases over the current FY 76 amount of 13 million dollars, and Congressional authorization for Tunisia in FY 77 has already been requested at this same 15 million dollar level. Legislative action on this request is still pending.

The Department of State will seek, however, to have the FY 77 FMS level increased to 25 million dollars if funds become available, and the Department will also seek inter-agency approval to increase the FY 78, 79 and 80 planning levels to 25 million dollars each year.

The Department of State trusts that the Tunisian Government understands the U.S. wishes to be helpful but that the Department can give no firm assurances that the increase in FY 77 FMS financing can be obtained, or that any given amount of credit will be available during FY 78–80.

It is hoped that the Tunisian Government understands the Department of State cannot make such multi-year commitments, and that this decision to seek increases is the most that can be done at the moment to demonstrate the desire to be responsive to Tunisia’s needs.

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The U.S. Government will be pleased to receive at the appropriate time in Washington any military representatives the Tunisian Government might wish to send, and to continue ongoing conversations through the American Embassy in Tunis and the Tunisian Embassy in Washington.

A visit of Tunisian Defense officials to Grafenwoehr in the Federal Republic of Germany is now being arranged so that they may observe tank gunnery and TOW missile firings.

B. Economic Assistance—The Department of State has examined the Tunisian Government’s request for an indication of projected U.S. economic assistance during the period of Tunisia’s next five year development plan. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make such a projection because of the uncertainties of our system of annual appropriations.

The following areas have been identified for priority consideration and A.I.D. is actively working with the Tunisian Government in developing programs in the following fields:

—Rural development


—Health and nutrition

—Family planning

—Women in development

—Science and technology

It should be understood that the sums involved for these projects will not be large and that capital assistance will not be significant in terms of Tunisia’s overall investment needs.

The U.S. development assistance program in Tunisia will be oriented to achieving transfer of technology, which in the long range can have a significant impact far beyond the level of expenditures involved.

Ambassador Mulcahy is in full agreement with this approach, and will coordinate U.S. Government assistance efforts to achieve the maximum benefits possible for Tunisia.

June 23, 1976, Department of State, Washington. End quote.

2. Embassy is authorized to inform GOT of delivery of Aide-Mém-oire, and to draw from it as appropriate.

  1. Summary: In an aide-mémoire given to Hedda on June 23, the Department outlined the economic and military assistance that the United States would provide Tunisia.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, National Security Council Staff for the Middle East and South Asia, Box 24, Tunisia. Confidential. Drafted by Lewis Murray in NEA/AFN; cleared by NEA, and S/S; and approved by DeFord. Telegram 157442 to Tunis, June 25, transmitted the memorandum of conversation. (Ibid.)