Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director, Foreign Operations Administration (Stassen)



  • Emperor Haile Selassie President
  • Eisenhower

At 10:00 A. M. on May 29, 1954, Emperor Haile Selassie called on President Eisenhower at the White House accompanied by his Foreign Minister and his Secretary Interpreter. Mr. Simmons of the State Department was present and the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration joined the conference at the request of the President.

His Majesty, speaking through his interpreter, thanked the President for his reception in the United States, stated that he would have difficulty explaining to his own people the generosity and extended welcome, and then asked if he might mention a few items of official matters.

Upon the President’s assent, His Majesty said he wanted to express appreciation of the aid that had been received, of the technical cooperation extended, of the arms that were being provided under the new agreement, and expressed the hope that this assistance would continue.

He expressed a particular interest in the expansion of private investment [Page 455] of American capital in Ethiopia, said that his country would welcome it, and that he wanted it to help in the economic and social development of his people.

He also specifically commented on the new ports which his country had through the Eritrea area, and stated these ports needed development and needed some ships to stand guard for order in that part of his empire.

He cited the Ethiopian airlines as a successful project and expressed the hope that this could be expanded.

He stated he would like to have his Foreign Minister come back to Washington at the close of the current journey to go into these matters with officials designated by the President in greater detail.

In response, the President stated that his officials would be pleased to talk further with the Foreign Minister about these matters at a future date. The President stated that sympathetic consideration would be given on a friendly basis to all these matters, that the President was, of course, making no commitments of a specific nature, but they could be sure of friendly consideration.

The President stated that there was private capital that would be interested in investment if a friendly climate to private investment was maintained. The President mentioned the problem in some parts of the world, of private capital being invested and then being taken away. He said he knew that Ethiopia would not take such steps, but would welcome and safeguard private capital. The President stated that he wanted His Majesty to know that he was complimented by His Majesty’s visit to our country, that he looked to a future relationship of friendship; United States did not wish to dominate any country but to work with them as independent sovereign nations on a friendly basis.

His Majesty again thanked the President, stated that his Foreign Minister would return to Washington at a later date, and stated that the agreements between the two countries assured a basis for private capital investment and for friendship. The President stated he was pleased with His Majesty’s emphasis upon the social and economic progress of his own people and that the United States was willing to continue to work with them in such a program of social and economic progress.

His Majesty asked if he could leave a memo as an aide-mémoire and the President said he would be pleased to accept it.1

  1. A copy of the aide-mémoire has not been found in Department of State files. According to a statement by the Foreign Minister when he saw Byroade on June 15 (see footnote 2, infra), it asked that a meeting be arranged where various matters of concern to the two governments could be discussed.