884.6461 Tsana Dam/62

The Minister in Ethiopia (Southard) to the Secretary of State

No. 104

Sir: I have the honor to confirm my telegram of this date stating that His Majesty, King Tafari Makonnen, had intimated to me that British action in the Tsana Dam negotiation was delayed by difficulties with the Egyptian Government.

Neither the King nor any one else here appears to be well informed in the matter. However, the report current is that the British Government will delay making any further proposals to the Ethiopian Government concerning the Tsana Dam until it shall have obtained the consent of the Egyptian Government. The Egyptians appear to be holding out for guarantees from the British Government which the latter is reluctant to give. I regret that I can obtain no more detailed information here, but this intimation of a probable situation may enable the Department to elicit details from either Cairo or London.

In further connection with the Tsana Dam subject I wish to refer to my Diplomatic Despatch No. 99 of November 16th, 1928,14 concerning German interest in the project. I have been informed by my German colleague here, Dr. Curt Pruffer, that he is starting off about the middle of December for a trek from Addis Ababa to [Page 798] Asmara in the Italian colony of Eritrea. Lake Tsana is on the route and I asked him if he would see it. He said that it would be one of the points of interest on his trip. Doctor W. C. Martin and others have told me, however, that the German Minister’s trip has as its main objective the visit to Lake Tsana and that the stated objective of Asmara is merely incidental. It is not apparent that Dr. Pruffer can do anything important in the matter by merely going there but I report his proposed trip as of further significance in connection with the German interest reported in previous despatches.

Captain Harold White, mentioned in the Department’s telegraphic instruction of October 29th, 1928,15 has arrived and was taken by me a few days ago for presentation to His Majesty, the King. He gave the King a fine tiger skin and 6,000 feet of cinematograph film. He said nothing about the Tsana Dam on this occasion but I have heard from other sources that he will seek an audience with the King for purpose of discussing it.

I suspect that matters will in no way be helped if he discusses the Tsana Dam with the King but I have not, of course, intimated anything of the sort to Captain White, whom I have found an agreeable and most creditable type of American. If and when he mentions to me his purpose in this connection I shall afford him all possible assistance. I do know, however, that the King prefers to keep the discussion in its present status between himself and the Legation, unless an actual and fully accredited officer of the White Corporation should come. I understand that Captain White does not so qualify.

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I have [etc.]

Addison E. Southard
  1. Not printed.
  2. Telegram No. 19, Oct. 29, 4 p.m., not printed.