46. Editorial Note

At the 414th meeting of the National Security Council on July 23, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles discussed developments in Ethiopia during his briefing on significant world developments. The relevant portion of the memorandum of discussion by S. Everett Gleason, July 23, reads as follows:

“In the course of his visit to Moscow, the Emperor of Ethiopia has signed an agreement for a loan of 100 million rubles. The loan was of the usual kind; that is, on a barter basis with low interest rates. It is also said that the Czechs are extending a line of credit to Haile Selassie of twenty million dollars. To these agreements there are rumors of secret protocols of whose content we know nothing. These moves may, however, be the first major attempt of the Communist Bloc to penetrate into the deeper parts of Africa. This could be extremely significant. It was also possible that the Ethiopian Emperor is, in a quiet way, attempting to blackmail the U.S. Some opposition to his agreements has already made itself apparent in Addis Ababa but the opposition groups, who have approached us with the idea of putting the Crown Prince on the throne, have very little popular backing. Mr. Dulles warned that this was a situation which must be followed very carefully by the U.S. because of its obvious implications for Africa as a whole. One unconfirmed report has it that Haile Selassie has ordered the abrogation of the agreement which established the U.S. Base at Asmara. This, if true, could be extremely serious.

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“Secretary Gates underlined the great importance to the Navy and to other U.S. Services of the Asmara Base. Admiral Burke added that the Asmara Base would assume even greater importance if we were to lose our bases in Morocco.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

The agreement under reference was signed at Washington on May 22, 1953; for text, see 5 UST 749.