NEA Files: Lot 55–D36

Statement by the United States and the United Kingdom Groups

top secret

The Problem

Anglo-American interest in Ethiopia.


Both groups expressed the view that there were no major issues regarding Ethiopia which called for discussion at the present time. Main concern centered on the maintenance of stability and in this connection reference was made to the increasingly active role which the Russians have been playing in Ethiopia recently although the intensity of this activity had not as yet become particularly alarming.
Another matter having a bearing on the internal stability of the country was the desire of the Ethiopian Government to obtain arms for the purpose of maintaining the authority of the central government. [Page 597] Approaches had been made to the American Government for supplying arms to the Ethiopian Government, but it had thus far not been found possible to comply with their request due to the unavailability of the types of equipment desired. It was possible that certain sales of surplus military equipment might be effected. The United States Government considered, however, that informal Ethiopian requests for material to equip a motorized division should not be given favorable consideration since Ethiopian economy could not stand the purchase of such material or the cost of maintaining such a division. The British group stated that it would be glad to see the United States furnish arms for internal security but would appreciate being kept currently advised on such action as might be taken.
The British group stated that the Ethiopian Government had asked for a revised treaty providing for British evacuation of both the Ogaden and the reserved area but that the British were reluctant to proceed with negotiations for the time being pending decisions regarding the disposition of the former Italian Colonies. Reference was also made in this connection to boundary rectification problems in respect to Kenya, British Somaliland and Sudan. Thus far the only appreciable progress made had been on the question of the Kenya border. The British had proposed to cede the port of Zeila together with a connecting corridor to Ethiopia in return for a frontier rectification which would avoid cutting across tribal areas. No agreement on this suggestion had yet been reached.


The problem presented by Russian penetration in Ethiopia, although not currently serious, merits continued attention.
The British perceive no objection to sales of American arms to Ethiopia for the purpose of maintaining internal security, but would wish to be kept currently advised of developments.