357.AH/9–2650: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Consulate in Tunisia
night action

20. For McGhee.

I. Progress report re Eritrea: Brit FonOff report of its conversation with you Sep 19 re Eritrea arrived Bevin’s Lake Success office Sep 21 as Sforza entered for Eritrea talk with Bevin so Stafford1 unable show Bevin report first.

Bevin appealed to Sforza to agree to draft res. Sforza explained grave polit risks ItalGovt wld run in accepting present proposal. He felt we were asking Itals to support a plan which wld be opposed in Assembly: nevertheless if Assembly passes such res without Ital support they wld bow to the decision.

[Page 1682]

Bevin asked whether it wld help if Brit wld remain for three years instead of two and if para were inserted in res providing that administering power or Commissioner report to UN on any point where the rigid wording of res was operating in such way to make setting up of the federation unworkable and causing great difficulty. In such case, adjustments in res cld be considered and approved. Count Sforza agreed refer these questions his govt. It was made clear to Itals that if they like above suggestion it will be for them to take initiative to present it to four mediating dels for subsequent submission to Ethios.

UKDel informally advised Ethios of Bevin’s suggestion. Ethios were extremely upset and state they wld not accept either of Bevin’s suggestions. Aklilou demanded mtg with Bevin and pressed for withdrawal Bevin’s suggestion. Bevin replied he was merely trying to help and if his suggestion not considered helpful by either party he wld not press it.

At noon Sept 26 Noyes reported SecState has requested briefing paper2 for talks Sept 26 or 27 with Aklilou, Bevin and Sforza. Itals have not accepted Bevin suggestion of Sept 22 but have come back requesting further concessions. Noyes did not specify what concessions were. This may provide opportunity drop Bevin suggestion. According to Noyes SecState plans make strong plea for federation formula and seems prepared to proceed with this formula with or without Itals. USUN considering campaign line up LADels for federation even in face Ital opposition.

II. Spencer indicated to Noyes Sept 22 that EthioDel still hoping solution of Eritrean problem cld be reached on basis compromise federation formula. Ethios remain strongly opposed to any changes in Sept 9 working draft.3 Spencer indicated that they had considered a deadlock in Assembly and a de facto solution as unattractive last resort and he recognized that there were certain risks involved for Ethiopia in pressing that course of action. Spencer seemed favorably inclined to explore all possible ways of getting present compromise accepted by GA. It was clear that they would seek for maximum assurances that res would be approved before it is introduced, but Spencer appeared to realize that as practical matter they wld have to accept certain risks if this course were attempted.

In the course of conversation it developed that Ethios might conceivably be prepared to broaden present negot to include other matters with a view to helping Ital Govt face its polit problems and [Page 1683] perhaps saving face. On an entirely personal basis, the fol program was developed: Spencer to consult Aklilou as to his attitude towards this; Noyes indicated he wld consult Dept. The program wld contemplate that US or US and UK or negots group of US and UK and Mexico wld submit to both Ethios and Itals a suggestion that they shld agree to fol points: (1) text of Sep 9 draft res on Eritrea; (2) that Ethio wld withdraw its objections to Ital Somalil trusteeship agreement and that suitable arrangement be made with re to Ital Somalil-Ethio boundary; (3) that Ethio wld send a reparations commission to Italy immed to work out and settle reparations question; (4) that Ethio wld retain the services of some fifty Ital experts within Ethio; (5) that the two govts agree to establish dipl relations. No effort was made to formulate above points but they were simply given as example of items which might conceivably be included in such agreement. Spencer seemed to conceive this agreement as doc which wld be published and which cld therefore be used by Ital Govt to justify itself before parliament.

Spencer requested that this “package” plan be kept very confidential and entirely within US Govt until he had discussed it with Aklilou. Noyes indicated his personal view that a new approach to Eritrean problem along this line might well provide basis for solution. He agreed to take no further action without further consultation with Spencer except to obtain Dept’s views. On Sep 25 Dept informed Noyes by wire that Dept favored considering this plan provided:

Reference in published statement to Eritrea question shld be so phrased as leave no doubt that parties agree that authority to provide for future of Eritrea rests with UNGA.
Specific terms shld be as gen as possible and shld be worked out by Itals and Ethios themselves with such help as can appropriately be given them. Believed attempt to provide in detail for all matters outstanding bet Ital and Ethio wld entail prolonged argument and might jeopardize success of rapprochement.
USDel shld handle matter so as carefully to avoid US assuming commitment as patron of the arrangement which might later entail assertion by either or both sides that we must act as arbiters in this execution. Believer USDel shld work in closest consultation with UKDel and that both Ital and Ethio dels shld be brought into the picture at earliest practicable moment consonant with achieving success.

Spencer has discussed this “pkg” plan with Aklilou who is agreeable to having Noyes outline “pkg” plan to Stafford to obtain Brit reaction.

[Page 1684]

Noyes also reported noon Sept 26 that at same time that federation draft is being pushed he and Stafford will try to get Aklilou agreement to presentation “pkg” plan to Sforza. Approach to Itals wld be along line that while US and UK are prepared to push federation proposal without Itals, they much prefer reach solution acceptable to Itals and are proposing “pkg” plan as way of making federation proposal sufficiently palatable to Itals to permit acceptance.

  1. Frank E. Stafford, a member of the United Kingdom Delegation at the United Nations.
  2. A copy of this briefing paper is in file 357.AH/9–2250.
  3. The September 9 draft was a revision of the August 24 draft (telegram 364, p. 1667) which attempted to meet the several Italian objections to the latter. The revisions were indicated in telegram 497, from New York, September 9, not printed (357.AH/9–950).