273. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia0

880. Addis for Ambassador. As Embassy aware, we have for some time contemplated approach to IEG in hope latter could be convinced Western arms for Somalis less dangerous to Ethiopia than arms from unfriendly sources. Department feels it now time to make approach and unless you perceive serious objection, you should at earliest convenient occasion have frank conversation with Foreign Minister Imru referring to his call on Satterthwaite (Deptel 429 to Addis, rpt London 3212, Mogadiscio 288, Rome 1638, Paris unn),1 as well as to your recent conversation (Addis 1123, rpt London 32, Paris 26, Rome 17, Mogadiscio 64)2 and outline U.S. analysis Somali Army situation as provided recent Deptels. After explaining carefully arguments for Western action, you should reiterate U.S. position it has no plans assist directly in training or arming Somali Army but in circumstances feels former metropoles should do so and has so informed UK and GOI. We feel this source supply in best interests IEG as well as West. You should say that if IEG feels U.S. participation with UK and Italy would reassure IEG as to intentions Western [Page 430] powers, USG prepared give serious consideration doing so. Alternatively, if IEG feels smaller (and possibly non-European) power might be more acceptable as source training for Somali Army, then USG would be willing see if one is prepared make offer to GSR. Naturally we have no idea whether GSR likely accept. You should offer discuss matter with Aklilou and HIM if desired.

FYI. One purpose above approach (details of which you may modify in your discretion) is to test validity Embassy belief (which Department shares) that IEG reaction to U.S. support of Somali Army would be so negative as to result in unacceptable damage to U.S. position Ethiopia, including but not restricted to possible loss of Kagnew. We feel possibility IEG would tolerate U.S. aid to Somali Army slight but that suggestion in above terms enables us test this hypothesis with minimal risk.

In our view IEG just might reluctantly accept idea of small power as source training and channel for arms in view fact Deressa once indicated such possibility not out of question (Addis 10, July 1, 1960, rpt London 1, Rome 1, Mogadiscio 40).3 We also feel IEG most likely accept “small power” concept if faced with fact U.S. feels alternative is unfriendly power (in view IEG repeated opposition to U.S., U.K., or Italy) and gravely concerned at this possibility. End FYI.

This message repeated other posts strictly for information and contents should not be passed to third parties at present.

For Rome: If Italy and UK should meanwhile wish to begin tripartite talks, you should be guided in your comments by Deptels 3127 and 3145.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 777.5-MSP/5-2961. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Allen, cleared in draft by Williams and Moffett, and approved by Witman. Repeated to London, Mogadiscio, Rome, and Paris (by pouch).
  2. Dated December 13, 1960. (Ibid., 877.00/12-1360)
  3. Dated May 27. (Ibid., 777.5-MSP/5-2761)
  4. Not printed. (Ibid., 777.5/7-360)
  5. Neither found.