611.75/5–153

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director, Office of African Affairs (Utter)1

confidential

Subject:

  • Visit of Ethiopian Foreign Minister.

Participants:

  • Ato Aklilou Abte Wolde, Ethiopian Foreign Minister.
  • Mr. Addimau Tesemma, Chargé d’Affaires, Ethiopian Embassy.
  • Mr. ByroadeNEA.
  • Mr. UtterAF.

At his request, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister called on Mr. Byroade May 1, 1953.

After preliminary pleasantries, Ato Aklilou expressed his concern over the long delay in setting US-Ethiopian questions under discussion. He pointed out that he had been in the United States one month and a half and that his presence was urgently needed in Addis Ababa. However, he would of course not leave until the agreements were concluded, but sincerely hoped that this would be done before May 9th when Mr. Byroade would leave with Mr. Dulles on a trip through the Middle East.2

Mr. Byroade was confident everything could be settled within a week, since the Joint Chiefs of Staff had approved military grant aid to Ethiopia, and he would personally expedite the final steps in obtaining the approval of Mr. Stassen and the President. Furthermore, Mr. Byroade understood that practically all of the differences in the Base Agreement had been ironed out and a final text was in preparation. Ato Aklilou expressed appreciation for Mr. Byroade’s efforts in bringing these matters to a speedy conclusion.

He then inquired whether the Secretary had been able to revamp the itinerary of his trip to the Middle East and South Asia to include a visit to Ethiopia. Mr. Byroade replied that despite Mr. Dulles’ desire to accept the Emperor’s kind invitation, he would be unable to adjust his schedule to pass through Addis Ababa. Ato Aklilou said that he would notify the Emperor.

[Page 449]

Reference was then made to an article appearing in the New York Times on April 27 indicating the possible nomination of Reverend Joseph Simonson as Ambassador to Ethiopia.3 Mr. Byroade informed Ato Aklilou that this announcement was unofficial and premature and the decision in this matter was up to the President. Ato Aklilou expressed concern over the selection of a churchman as Ambassador to his country and anticipated a similar reaction on the part of the Emperor. He suggested that consideration be given to the appointment of a career Minister instead of a churchman. He mentioned possible opposition from the powerful Coptic Church in Ethiopia and his impression that the new Ambassador might act more as a missionary than a statesman. Mr. Byroade reassured him on this score and added that he understood Mr. Simonson was a man of very high calibre with legal training and well considered in political circles in this country.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was initialed by Byroade.
  2. For documentation on the trip of Secretary of State Dulles to the Near and Middle East, see volume ix .
  3. Simonson was appointed Ambassador to Ethiopia on July 22, 1953 and presented his credentials on Oct. 6.