884.6461 Tsana Dam/332

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

No. 929

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s No. 897 of February 11th, 1932,19 reporting that we had procured issuance by the Ethiopian Government to the local British Legation of a definite invitation to the British to come to Addis Ababa with the representative of the White Engineering Corporation to present the report of the Tsana dam and road survey completed last winter.

My British colleague telegraphed this invitation to London and Khartoum, mentioning April as the probable time for the conference. He has now been instructed that April is too early; that the Sudan Government is negotiating with the Egyptian Government with a view to participation by the latter in the cost of the Tsana dam and that these negotiations are not likely to be completed for some months. My colleague has been instructed so to inform the Ethiopian Government, and to ask in addition that the Ethiopians authorize the White Corporation to provide Khartoum in advance with a copy of the complete survey report. The Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs has promised my colleague to consider the latter request and to telegraph the White Corporation accordingly.

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I assume that the Minister of Foreign Affairs will consult this Legation in connection with the request that the White Corporation provide an advance copy of the survey report to Khartoum, but to date he has not mentioned the matter.

My British colleague said that he had mentioned October to the Minister of Foreign Affairs as a tentative date for the Tsana conference but that he could not, of course, state definitely when the Sudan Government would be ready.

Inclusion of the Egyptian Government as a party to the Tsana negotiations would seem desirable rather than otherwise. The Ethiopians have been and are suspicious of the British motives in the Tsana project. They do not regard the Egyptians with any definite suspicion and are inclined to feel that the latter would not join the British in any enterprise inimical to Ethiopian interests. The Ethiopians are also inclined, as much as they are ever inclined in such direction, to regard Egyptian ambitions with favor on the basis of ancient historical relations and on religious relations (the head of the Ethiopian church being always an Egyptian Copt) which continue to the present day. The Ethiopians are inclined to patronize the Egyptians but on the other hand are more likely to favor Egyptian than British ambitions in the direction of a realization of the Tsana project. Egyptian participation in the negotiations may therefore have the advantage of diluting present Ethiopian suspicion of the British in relation at least to this particular project.

Respectfully yours,

Addison E. Southard
  1. Not printed.