Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge, North African Affairs (Wellons)



  • Ethiopian Proposals for Further Discussions with the United States Government


  • Ato Aklilou, Ethiopian Foreign Minister
  • Yilma Deressa, Ethiopian Ambassador
  • John Spencer, Senior Adviser to Ethiopian Foreign Minister
  • Ato Menassie Lemma, Ethiopian Vice Minister of Finance
  • NEA—Mr. Byroade
  • AF—Messrs. Utter, Cyr, Wellons, & Longanecker
  • S/MSA—Mr. Frechtling
  • ED—Mr. Ross
  • FOA—Messrs. N. Paul & W. Moran
  • Army—Colonel Thomas Hannah

Mr. Byroade opened the meeting by noting that these talks were “discussions” and not “negotiations”, and mentioned that this was a rather bad time for us because this was the end of the fiscal year and many officers had to appear before Congressional committees in connection with appropriations, etc., for next year. However, efforts were being made to arrange meetings for the Foreign Minister with Secretary Dulles and with Mr. Stassen.

In response to Mr. Byroade’s request to explain the background of these talks for the benefit of all those present, Aklilou repeated, in large measure, the substance of the remarks he made in Mr. Byroade’s office on June 15 (Memorandum of Conversation dated June 15).2 The principal points made by the Foreign Minister were:

Ethiopia has for several years pursued a policy of collaboration with the United States, i.e., base rights agreement, export-import trade, etc. He now wants to crown the Emperor’s trip to this country with some arrangements of mutual value.
If the U.S. wants more military facilities in Ethiopia, including air or naval bases, Ethiopia would be pleased to grant such facilities.
Most of the arms supplied to Ethiopia under the MDA Agreement of last year have been received. Ethiopia now needs more military equipment to make Ethiopian troops effective fighting units. In particular, they want to complete the equipment of one division of their Army with American equipment.
Ethiopia desires more U.S. investment. To attain this Ethiopia needs public services which are long term projects and which should be started now. Aklilou mentioned that he had seen a U.S. Government pamphlet regarding the type of guarantees American businessmen want in making foreign investments. He said that Ethiopia can meet these requirements, i.e., export of dollars, no danger of expropriation, etc., but desires U.S. advice on the size and length of concessions to be granted.
Ethiopia wishes to undertake certain development programs which can not be met by short term loans or private investment such as the development of the ports of Massawa and Assab and the acquisition of coast guard vessels. He remarked that the Ethiopian budget could not support such projects at this time and if they are not undertaken Ethiopia is at the mercy of Djibouti (and by implication—the French).
The Ethiopian Airlines is making a profit without Government subsidy. Competing airlines in the area are now introducing four engine turbo-jets. Unless EAL obtains new equipment a U.S. managed enterprise will be in jeopardy.
Ethiopia needs secondary roads which are essential to increase their exports, particularly coffee. His Government has been working with the Bureau of Public Roads on a long term program which can be justified on the basis of potential development. The Ethiopian Government wants to continue this relationship with the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads.

Mr. Byroade thanked the Foreign Minister for his expressions of U.S.-Ethiopian friendship and stated that we are always happy to deal with the Ethiopians who seem to come up with ideas similar to our own. He added that the U.S. believes in the future importance of Ethiopia—particularly in Africa—as an area of stability. It is good for Africa to have an example of a progressing, stable country so close at hand.

Mr. Byroade told the Foreign Minister that the answers which we give during these discussions will be cleared at the top-level in the U.S. Government on the basis of the utmost sympathy for Ethiopian desires and objectives. However, he said we may not be able to do all that we would like because what we do has to be considered in terms of our many other global commitments.

In response to a question raised by Mr. Byroade regarding the reason for developing Massawa and Assab, Ambassador Deressa explained that this was to avoid conflict with Aden and Djibouti—a tug of war with other countries—such as Ethiopia had experienced in the past. The Ambassador, in reply to a further question, indicated that Ethiopia feared that a request by them for a loan from the IBRD for the development of these ports would be blocked in the IBRD by the British and French. Mr. Byroade then remarked that this matter should be explored further. Aklilou mentioned also that this was a financing problem—that it would have to be long-term. John Spencer [Page 458] noted that the development needs of the ports would require considerable foreign exchange—about 80% of the total cost.

Mr. Byroade concluded this meeting by saying we would try to complete the discussions and have answers for the Ethiopians by the end of this week.

  1. This conversation took place at 11 a.m.
  2. The memorandum of the June 15 conversation is not printed. The Foreign Minister and Byroade, along with members of their staffs, had a general discussion of the questions that were to be brought up in the more detailed discussions scheduled for June 29 and 30. (611.75/6–1554)