775.5 MSP/5–454

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



  • Military Aid to Ethiopia.


  • Henry A. Byroade, Assistant Secretary of State
  • Ambassador Yilma Deressa, Ethiopian Embassy
  • John E. Utter, AF

At his request Ambassador Deressa called on Mr. Byroade for a general discussion regarding U.S. military aid to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Ambassador conveyed his Government’s concern over the delay in the arrival of military equipment which was accorded to Ethiopia in pursuance of the agreement of May 22, 1953.2 He expressed the hope that the shipments would be accelerated in order that the re-equipment of the Ethiopian Army might be effected as soon as possible. Mr. Byroade manifested some surprise at this state of affairs inasmuch as we had been given to understand by the Department of Defense that the program was being carried out in a satisfactory manner. Mr. Byroade informed Mr. Deressa that he would request full details from the Department of Defense and would inform him.3

Mr. Byroade took this occasion to hand to the Ambassador an aide-mémoire [Page 452] in reply to the request for further assistance by the Ethiopian Government contained in the Embassy’s aide-mémoire of January 29, 1954.4 Mr. Byroade stated that we regretted very much not being able to give satisfaction to the Ethiopians at this time in regard to their request for aid in establishing a merchant marine and naval training school and airplanes with a supply of spare parts. Our aide-mémoire, he explained, gave in some detail the recommendations of the Department of Defense for the type of equipment and services which might be obtained on a reimbursable basis. Mr. Byroade said that world-wide demands on the United States made it imperative that we give priority to those countries most vulnerable to communist aggression, and Ethiopia did not fall in this category.

Mr. Deressa inquired whether long-term credit could be allowed on orders of this sort and was informed that immediate payment was usually required. He then wondered whether the military aid agreement signed last year was limited to the first annual amount of 5 million dollars or whether his Government could expect supplementary aid in the fulfillment of Ethiopian military requirements. It was pointed out to him that no amount nor period of time was stipulated in the agreement and the presence of MAAG in Ethiopia was an earnest of the United States continuing interest in the military needs of Ethiopia. It was suggested that the appropriate officials of the Imperial Ethiopian Government bring their views and requests to the Chief of the MAAG in Addis Ababa whose duty and responsibility it was to transmit requests and make recommendations to the Department of Defense.

The Ethiopian Ambassador pressed for our sympathetic consideration of the needs of Ethiopia and was told by Mr. Byroade that His Imperial Majesty could be assured that we always stood ready to study any Ethiopian requests. Mr. Byroade said he wished to emphasize, however, that United States friendship should not be measured by the amount of money we give to any particular country. He added that there were few nations in the world with whom we had such close and friendly ties as with Ethiopia.

Mr. Deressa thanked Mr. Byroade for the interest he had shown in the Ethiopian request and said that he would convey the text of our aide-mémoire to his Government. Mr. Deressa said that he wished to take this occasion to express his appreciation for everything the African Office and the Protocol Staff of the Department were doing to prepare for the visit of His Imperial Majesty.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was initialed by Byroade.
  2. Regarding the agreements signed on May 22, 1953, see the editorial note, p. 449.
  3. On May 20, Utter gave Ambassador Deressa an aide-mémoire responding to this point. Information from the Department of Defense showed that the only items programmed for Ethiopia that had not been shipped were 12 artillery pieces, which were scheduled for shipment prior to January 1955. (775.5 MSP/ 5–2054)
  4. Neither document is printed. The Ethiopian aide-mémoire of Jan. 29 stated that Ethiopia regarded the Red Sea coastline as a natural resource and also a responsibility. It requested help from the U.S. Navy, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard in establishing a coast guard service and, eventually, a modest fleet of merchant vessels. It also requested help for Ethiopia’s military air-training program. (775.5 MSP/4–653)