777.022/3–2350: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

1302. Dept concerned over deterioration security situation Eritrea and also fears UNComInq may not reach clear recommendation. If, in addition, tension between Itals and Ethios increases in next weeks and months possibility any peaceful solution wld be greatly lessened since it is doubtful whether GA wld be able to adopt any recommendation by two-thirds majority. Therefore Dept considers US and UK shld again make known their position on disposition Eritrea and attempt persuade others concerned to adopt measures conducive to peaceful settlement this problem. McGhee has already assured Drew2 in Asmara of US support UK re Eritrea (Asmara’s 28, Mar 203).

In response London’s 1448 Mar 16 (rptd Addis 29)4 Dept requests US Amb Addis5 to inform members UNComInq, if they solicit our views, that pending consideration their report US continues to believe that best disposition Eritrea would be cession all except Western Province to Ethio and incorporation Western Province in Sudan. Embs Rome and Addis shld inform Ital and Ethio govts of foregoing.

In discussions with UNComInq Amb Addis cld use arguments against other proposals recapitulated London’s 1448, as well as arguments supporting partition used by USDel in GA. However, Dept questions whether it wld be advisable to press case for partition to extent of emphasizing capabilities Ethios for stirring up trouble if decision adverse to them. Such arguments might have boomerang effect on some members UNComInq and GA whereas emphasis on positive merits Ethio case shld go long way towards obtaining result desired by both UK and US.

We agree, and Amb Addis shld so inform Ethio Govt, that Ethios cld buttress their case by informing UNComInq partition wld be acceptable or at least indicating willingness accept recommendations which wld meet most, if not all, of their claims. Such expression by Ethios might well facilitate decision favorable to Ethios and solution of problem by peaceful methods which are surely in interests all parties concerned.

At same time Dept continues desire steps be taken which wld facilitate Ital-Ethio rapprochement and solution Eritrea problem by procedure in which Itals cld at least acquiesce. Therefore Emb London [Page 1644] shld ask FonOff if UK now willing to join US in providing friendly assistance for any further consultations between Itals and Ethios which they may desire in effort resolve outstanding differences. We propose following steps be taken promptly if UK agreeable.

Ital and Ethio govts wld be told UK and we are prepared continue provide friendly assistance toward composing their differences. Both Itals and Ethios wld be asked whether they are prepared to consult further on basis Geneva draft formula or on any other basis.
Re Rome’s 1147 Mar 20 (rptd Addis 54) Emb Addis wld inform Aklilou and Spencer of contents Rome’s 905 Mar 5 and of specific suggestions contained Rome’s 677 Feb 17, pointing out that our reports from Rome (especially Rome’s 905) indicate Ital Govt still desirous conclude agreement on basis Geneva formula.6
Itals and Ethios wld be informed that if further consultations desired US wld favor holding them in London.7
  1. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Rome, Paris, and Asmara.
  2. Brigadier Drew, British Chief Administrator for Eritrea.
  3. Not printed. For documentation on McGhee’s visit to Ethiopia and discussion of the problem of Eritrea with Emperor Haile Selassie, see pp. 1691 ff.
  4. Not printed.
  5. George Robert Merrell.
  6. None of the messages under reference in this paragraph, which dealt with various Italian statements on the draft Italian-Ethiopian agreement which had been worked out at Geneva, is printed (675.7731/3–2050, 777.00/3–550, and 675.7731/2–1750). Regarding the Geneva formula, see telegram 141, January 27, p. 1642.
  7. On March 25 Julius Holmes, the U.S. Minister in the United Kingdom, reported that he had discussed the substance of this telegram with Roger Allen, the Head of the African Department in the Foreign Office, who indicated that the Foreign Office had already sent instructions similar to those in the second and third paragraphs to Ambassador Lascelles at Addis Ababa. Telegram 1626, not printed (357.AH/3–2550).