275. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • US-UK Talks on Africa: The Horn of Africa


  • United Kingdom:
    • Sir Roger Stevens, Deputy Under Secretary, Foreign Office
    • Sir Algernon Rumbold, Deputy Under Secretary, Commonwealth Relations Officer
    • M.K.M. Wilford, Foreign Office
    • J.D. Hennings, Colonial Attache, UK Embassy
    • J.D.B. Shaw, First Secretary, UK Embassy
  • United States:
    • G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
    • J. Wayne Fredericks, Deputy Assistant Secretary, African Affairs
    • William Witman II, Director,AFN
    • Martin F. Herz, Special Assistant for Planning, AF
    • John F. Buckle, AFN
    • Marcus Gordon, AID
    • Colonel Joseph Whitfield, USAF,DOD/ISA

Sir Roger remarked that if two years ago anyone had asked where trouble was most apt to arise in Africa the answer inevitably would have been “in the Horn”. The absence of that trouble was no cause for self-congratulation, however. The problems are intractable and trouble is standing in the wings. The West had to be particularly careful not to appear to favor one side or the other since the side which felt neglected would inevitably turn toward the East. While other African countries certainly did not regard them as the leaders in any movement, because of their geographical position Communist penetration of either would probably result in the spreading of the infection to all of the adjoining areas in Africa.

The problem is further complicated by the racial difficulties involved in the territorial overlapping of the Somali people. The Governor of Kenya, for example, felt that the most difficult problem facing that new nation was the resolution of the question involving the Somali people in Northern Kenya. The British definitely did not intend to alter territorial boundaries prior to independence. Furthermore, he was happy to say, the Somali Government was not pressing them particularly in this regard. However, the British were advising all important Kenyan political leaders that the Somali section of their country held little but trouble for them in the future. There was little indication so far that any future Kenyan Government would be willing to part with this area. On [Page 433]the other hand, if one should show any such inclination, the problems of the area would be even more aggravated, for the cession of this territory to the Somali Republic would provoke similar claims against Kenya from Ethiopia and would inevitably result in increased pressure by the Somalis on Ethiopia for the Ogaden as well as a stepped-up campaign against the French in Djibouti.

While the French had not informed the British as to their intention regarding French Somaliland, it would seem to be the last vestige of French colonialism in Africa, with obvious consequences. But if the French should pull out, it would create extremely serious problems for the Ethiopians and so the British were inclined to hope that the French would hold fast. Governor Williams agreed it was a problem area and remarked that we also had received little information from the French on their intentions.

Sir Roger then turned to the problem of economic and military assistance. The main principle all of the Western parties involved should follow was one of balancing the assistance given Somalia and Ethiopia. Unfortunately, the British had found it extremely difficult to work with the Ethiopians and had very few projects in that country. However, they were expecting a fairly large private participation by the firm of Michael Cotts in a Gezira-like scheme in the Awash Valley. The United States, of course, was meeting Ethiopian requirements quite successfully as well as providing for the military. On the other hand, the British were giving very significant amounts of assistance to Somalia and were now also undertaking the training of the Somali Army in conjunction with the Italians. The United States should be aware that the UK could not continue to provide assistance to Somalia at the present level. The Treasury had informed the Foreign Office that the most that could be hoped for next year was #1.3 million. Since it was expected that military expenses would increase from #150,000 to #250,000 there obviously would have to be considerable decrease in the amount of money available for developmental activities in the North. Perhaps it might be useful, Sir Roger said, if the United States could obtain a better balance in the assistance it was providing the two countries and thus somewhat compensate for this reduction.

Mr. Witman corrected the misapprehension of the British regarding the theoretically disproportionate amount of assistance being furnished by the United States to Ethiopia. He pointed out that if military aid were excluded—which should be the case since it was primarily a quid pro quo for Kagnew Station—the economic assistance on a per capita basis was very much in Somalia’s favor. Furthermore, in FY 1962 Somalia was one of the few countries where we were increasing our assistance. We would actually be providing more economic assistance to Somalia than to Ethiopia this year. Mr. Gordon explained that the total contemplated [Page 434]for Somalia in FY 1962 was approximately $9 million with $5.6 million of this amount going to the Chisimaio Port. When Sir Roger asked how the remaining roughly $4 million was to be spent, Mr. Gordon explained that specific amounts had not yet been decided upon, but the United States planned to concentrate on two or three sectors of the Somali economy—the inter-river area, education and water resources, plus the public safety program—and the various projects in these sectors would probably total $3.2 or $3.4 million.

Sir Roger remarked that this was very interesting information and confirmed his views that tripartite discussions among the British, Italians and United States should be held in the near future. The British had recently talked with the Italians in Rome, where they had found the Italians questioning the United States contributions to developmental aid. The Italians had said that they did not know what the United States had done to fulfill its commitments made during the Rome talks in November 1960 with the exception of Chisimaio Port. In view of this lack of communication it would probably be useful for the three powers to review what they had done and what they contemplated doing in 1963.

Governor Williams said he agreed that such a tripartite meeting would probably be useful. He felt that a balanced approach as proposed by Sir Roger was generally right. However, it should be noted that although the United States seemed to be providing a considerably larger amount to Somalia, this was not a deliberate policy on our part. It resulted from our wanting to provide one large project the Somalis particularly desired. Since this had been Chisimaio, the picture had been thrown somewhat out of focus.

Mr. Witman then said we hoped both the British and Italians would come forward soon with the military items they proposed to provide in the forthcoming year. The Somalis seemed very concerned over that particular subject. Sir Roger said that they had that problem very much in mind and did intend to inform the Somali Government shortly. He gathered from what had been said that the United States would not object to a tripartite meeting which he envisioned primarily as a discussion of what could be done in the developmental field since the United States obviously was not prepared to participate in budgetary support and military assistance. The Italians and British, of course, would use the occasion to inform the United States of their intentions in these areas. Governor Williams said that inasmuch as the British had talked to both the Italians and us about the meeting, he would suggest they consider themselves delegated to coordinate the arrangements for it. When Sir Roger asked if the United States preferred any particular site, the Governor said he thought it would be better to hold it outside of Washington. Sir Roger agreed and said he would probably propose to the Italians that a preliminary discussion take place among our Ambassadors in Mogadiscio [Page 435]which would be followed up in Rome in the Spring in formal tripartite consultations.

Mr. Gordon said he would like to point out that any reduction by the British in their aid level would create quite a problem for us with Congress. It was extremely difficult to make a convincing case of why we had to pick up additional aid requirements when former metropoles reduced their contributions. Sir Roger said he realized this, but, if it would be of any help, it could be pointed out that the British reduction would probably occur entirely in its former protectorate as far as the developmental sector went. If the British in addition had to reduce the amount of budg-etary support they were providing, this would not effect the American aid level since we are not participating in the budgetary sector.

Mr. Witman inquired whether the British were aware of the activity surrounding the new Haile Selassie I University. Specifically, were they going to send a representative to the Founder’s Day celebration on December 18, 1961? Sir Roger replied that while they were aware of some new stirring within the University, they had not been invited as far as he knew to send a representative to the convocation and had made no preparation to do so.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.41/11-2161. Confidential. Drafted by Buckle on December 12.