775.5 MSP/7–254

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

confidential

Subject:

  • Ethiopian Requests for Aid.

Participants:

  • The Secretary
  • Ato Aklilou, Ethiopian Foreign Minister
  • Yilma Deressa, Ethiopian Ambassador
  • John E. UtterAF

Aklilou and the Secretary remarked on the great success of the [Page 471]Emperor’s trip to the United States. The Foreign Minister also reported that His Imperial Majesty had just left the Presbyterian Hospital in New York where a check-up revealed him in good health.

Ato Aklilou then made a long exposé of the requests which had been made originally in a memorandum left by His Imperial Majesty with the President. He summarized the different proposals: (1) Loans for improvement of ports, highways and aviation for Ethiopia’s expanding economy. (2) Encouragement of American private investment in Ethiopia. (3) Assistance in education and (4) military aid in fulfillment of the U.S.-Ethiopian agreement of May 1953. Ato Aklilou stated that the President had assured the Emperor that the proposals would be given sympathetic consideration. Mr. Byroade had also given him encouragement.

During the last few days, discussions in the Department, with representatives of the FOA and Defense present, had resulted in rather negative answers to all of the requests. In particular Ato Aklilou expressed his chagrin that the French port of Djibouti had been suggested as a possible substitute for the refitting of the ports of Assab and Massawa since there were such obvious political implications involved. The Secretary suggested that perhaps the reason for this was that our economists looked at this without taking into account any political significance.

Ato Aklilou went on to say that His Imperial Majesty had been particularly depressed by this indication of the apparent policy of the U.S. to give support to colonial powers rather than to a friend like Ethiopia. The Secretary made it abundantly clear that the U.S. would not be in any way influenced by any pro-colonial considerations with regard to Ethiopia’s intentions to build up its own outlets to the sea. He stated that French policy of colonialism elsewhere, particularly in Indo-China, had been a great disappointment and the Ethiopians should not be under the impression that the U.S. would be swayed by any considerations favorable to building up French colonialism in East Africa.

Aklilou requested the Secretary to give instructions that a decision at least “in principle” be given to the eleven proposals submitted by the Ethiopian Government. The Secretary recalled that at the time of the writing of the Treaty of Versailles the French had agreed to do many things “en principa”—which proved later to be completely disregarded. He therefore preferred to have concrete and definite answers to the Ethiopian requests even if this took a longer time to obtain.

  1. A memorandum by Byroade to the Secretary, dated July 1, listed a number of possible topics for his conversation with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister at the meeting scheduled for 5: 30 p.m. on July 2. The memorandum suggested that the Secretary reiterate the President’s assurance of May 29 to the Emperor, that sympathetic consideration would be given to proposals made by the Emperor, and that such consideration would not be influenced by pro-colonial considerations. (611.75/7–154)