Memorandum by the Liaison Officer With the War and Navy Departments (Wilson)
Mr. Caldwell, the new Minister to Ethiopia, called this afternoon.
I showed him the minutes of the Liaison Meeting held on April 12 and the documents handed to General Maxwell last February during his journey through Ethiopia, and discussed with him in particular the action to be taken on the Emperor’s request for military equipment and for a household physician.
Mr. Caldwell informed me that Yilma Deressa, the Ethiopian Vice Minister of Finance, is now in the United States attending the International Food Conference at Hot Springs, at which he is the chief delegate of Ethiopia. Deressa has brought with him credentials giving him wide powers, including that of negotiating a Lend-Lease agreement. Preliminary negotiations in this connection have been discussed by Mr. Deressa with Mr. Phelps of the Division of Trade Agreements of this Department and Mr. Walker of the Lend-Lease Administration. Mr. Caldwell believed that it would be advisable to postpone further action on the Ethiopian Emperor’s request for military equipment until Deressa’s return from Hot Springs, which should take place in about three weeks. He understands that Deressa has authority to discuss these matters.
Mr. Caldwell also stated that on his arrival in the United States Deressa had said that the Ethiopian Government desires to obtain the services of six road experts and a financial adviser. He also pointed out the urgent need of the Ethiopian Government for radio equipment, as it is now unable to communicate with the outside world except through the British Legation at Addis Ababa. In this connection Mr. Caldwell informed me that after the expulsion of the Italians from Ethiopia the British had extended their military occupation throughout the country. This prevented the Emperor from exercising any authority. He therefore entered into an agreement [Page 97]with the British lasting for a period of two years which has restored to him a measure of this authority. However, under this agreement the British continue to exercise virtual control over the entire country, and have maintained the right to approve any advisers whom the Emperor may select. Their control over the only radio station in Ethiopia deprives the Emperor of the means to strengthen his Government.
With reference to the desire of the Emperor to obtain a household physician, Mr. Caldwell and I agreed that the War Department should be approached informally in order to ascertain whether that Department would be willing to supply an officer for this purpose.