775.5 MSP/7–254

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

confidential

Subject:

  • Ethiopian Requests for Aid.

Participants:

  • Ato Aklilou, Ethiopian Foreign Minister
  • John Spencer, Adviser to the Ethiopian Government
  • Henry A. Byroade, Assistant Secretary
  • John E. Utter, AF

After the US-Ethiopian conversations held on June 28–29,2Ato Aklilou asked to speak to Mr. Byroade, and this interview was sandwiched in between talks which he had with Mr. Stassen3 and the Secretary.

Ato Aklilou registered his disappointment at the generally negative answers to the Ethiopian requests for economic, military and technical aid. He singled out particularly his consternation and chagrin at the mere suggestion by the American officials at the meetings that the use of the French port of Djibouti might be more economical for Ethiopia, after obtaining better arrangements from the French, then for the Ethiopian Government to embark on a costly outlay for rehabilitating and expanding the ports of Assab and Massawa. He said that the Emperor, on hearing of our attitude, (which apparently was grossly misrepresented) had been deeply depressed and had been on the point of leaving the country immediately without awaiting the outcome of final [Page 470]talks on July 7th. Ato Aklilou proceeded to reiterate the political and economic reasons which made it impossible for the Ethiopians to entertain any wish or hope of arriving at satisfactory terms with the French either on the Franco-Ethiopian Railway or the Port of Djibouti. Even without American assistance Ethiopia was determined to go forward with the development of the outlets to the sea which had been granted them by the U.N. with the full support of the U.S. and France.

Mr. Byroade remarked that on a previous occasion a few weeks ago, he had been under the impression that Ato Aklilou understood that the present talks should be in no way tied to the Emperor’s visit to the U.S. The Imperial trip, Mr. Byroade continued, had been an outstanding success and it would be too bad to have the Emperor’s evident pleasure at the ovation he received throughout the country marred by disgruntlement at not receiving satisfaction in requests which he put forward to the U.S. Government. Mr. Byroade concluded that he would certainly be inclined to oppose in the future the visit of any chief of state in his area until it was clearly understood that the visit was only for good-will—and entailed no requests for help.

Ato Aklilou said that he understood this principle but that after all the proposals he had set forth were of long standing and he would have taken them up whether or not the Emperor had come. He added that the Emperor would not depart before hearing the outcome of the final discussion on July 7th, which it was agreed would take place in the afternoon.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was initialed by Byroade.
  2. Presumably this is a reference to the talks of June 29–30; see the memoranda of conversation, pp. 456 469. No record of conversations on June 28 has been found in Department of State files.
  3. No record of a conversation with Stassen has been found in Department of State files.