884.6461 Tsana Dam/367
The Minister in Ethiopia (Southard) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 21.]
Sir: I have the honor hereby to confirm the Legation’s telegraphic Despatch of November 23rd, 1932,20 conveying an invitation from the Ethiopian Government to the White Engineering Corporation, 43 Exchange Place, New York City, to participate in a conference on the Tsana Dam project, to be held in Addis Ababa the latter half of January, in which are expected also to take part representatives of the Anglo-Sudanese and Egyptian Governments.
This telegram was sent on the basis of an oral request of that date to me by the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs who thought it well thus to prepare the White Corporation for the formal invitation by letter which he expects to have ready for mailing within a few days. The exact date in the latter half of January for convening the conference is [Page 870]yet to be fixed, and will be telegraphed as soon as known. The original idea of the Ethiopians was to fix the conference for January first but my British colleague and I have pointed out that because of the usually leisurely Ethiopian Christmas festivities the conference could do little, if any, work during the first half of January. We therefore proposed January fifteenth or later in the month for beginning the conference.
The introduction of an Egyptian delegate is, the Legation understands, by request of the local British Legation, and is expected to facilitate arriving not only at a definite arrangement for getting on with the Tsana work but to facilitate the heretofore difficult financial arrangements—difficult mainly because of alleged poverty of the Sudan in official income.
The first attitude of the Ethiopians towards having an Egyptian representative is commented upon in the Legation’s No. 1083 of November 22nd, 1932.21 Since the date of that despatch the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs has paid me an informal visit to ask, on behalf of the Emperor, my opinion as to the desirability of including an Egyptian representative as desired by the British. I informally replied that I thought such would be an excellent idea, that the Egyptians would eventually and rightfully be interested in the water to be impounded at Tsana, and that they would undoubtedly be able to assist importantly in the guarantees necessary for the financing of the project which the Sudan Government might not be prepared to take entirely on itself. The Minister then said that he agreed, and that an Egyptian representative would be invited. He asked my further opinion as to whether he should transmit the invitation directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo or through the local Egyptian Consul. I could see no objection to the latter course and informally so opined. Presumably the invitation to the Egyptians will shortly go forward.
In view of the incomplete results of the last two conferences to which the White Engineering Corporation has sent a delegate here the American firm may be somewhat doubtful as to the practical value of participating in a further conference. There is no way in which the Legation can procure assurance from the Ethiopians that definite results will be arrived at, because the British hold the key to the situation in that respect and it is to them that the American firm must look should it require assurance of the kind. We believe that if the British and Egyptians negotiate reasonably the Ethiopians will consent to an arrangement for definite progress. The Legation has, after much strategy and maneuvering to conciliate the differences in ideas of procedure arising from what we might term Ethiopian and British distrust one of the other, succeeded in having a conference definitely called. [Page 871]We think that we also have the Ethiopians in a more receptive state of mind than heretofore as to the desirability for definite arrangements. On this basis we feel that the coming conference may reasonably be expected to produce results satisfactory to the American firm, but we naturally are not able to give any assurances to that effect because of our inability to know definitely in what manner and intention the representatives of the Sudan and Egypt may enter the negotiations.