277. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Somalia0

311. Embtel 420 to Dept, rptd Addis Ababa 89,1 Embdes 184.2 View certain contentious statements in GSR note Embdes 184, Dept had hoped be able avoid official reply. However, Embtel 420 indicates GSR awaiting response. Therefore, unless you perceive objection, you should reply along following lines:

USG previously unaware that thousands of Somalis had been massacred in their villages by Ethiopian troops using arms furnished by the USG as stated in GSR’s note of April 7, 1962. USG would of course wish to review carefully any evidence GSR has to substantiate this accusation. Use of military equipment furnished IEG by USG is restricted to internal security and defensive measures or in support UN operations. As far as we have been aware, this is all that arms we have furnished have been used for and USG would certainly take appropriate measures if investigation proved otherwise.

USG policy in Horn of Africa is to help both Ethiopia and Somalia help themselves in battle against underdevelopment. This is only battle which USG supports. We profoundly hope all disputes between Somalia and her neighbors can be settled by peaceful means and have used our good offices in past in pursuit this objective. USG more than willing attempt do so again if tensions should once more rise. Moreover, GSR does not have to be reminded of special interest of UN in welfare of Somali Republic, which acquired its independence under UN supervision. Somali Republic has won respect of world in promising that pursuit of national interests will conform to principles UN charter. In return, Somali Republic’s best hope of security lies in protection offered by UN charter.

USG has been extremely careful to avoid any action which would seem to be a contribution to an arms race anywhere in Africa. In line with [Page 439] this objective USG has refrained from assisting GSR in military field particularly since it is understood that governments of Italy and UK have agreed satisfy her defense requirements. Similarly USG has not responded favorably to Ethiopian requests for military equipment over and above quantities reasonably needed for internal security and defense.

Should be noted that equipment USG currently providing IEG is in fulfillment of commitments made in 1953 as amended 1956 and 1960. No expansion of force goals set at those dates is currently contemplated.USG, of course, cannot refuse to honor its limited commitments, however, and various replacement items will be provided from time to time.

USG is well aware Somali concern over possible border difficulties and would of course endeavor use its influence to discourage aggression should it threaten. USG believes its continued role in Ethiopian military program actually one of great usefulness to Somalia as well as IEG. As long as USG satisfying IEG’s minimum materiel and training requirements, peace has much greater chance remaining in Horn than if USG withdrew and left a vacuum.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 775.5/5-362. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Buckle on May 17; cleared in draft by Whitfield (OSD/ISA), Tasca, and Wolfe and by Hutchinson, Kitchen, and Bowles; and approved by Williams. Repeated to Addis Ababa.
  2. Dated May 3. (Ibid.)
  3. Despatch 184, April 20, transmitted a translation of a Somali Government note verbale of April 17 stating that the Somali people were deeply convinced that the massacres perpetrated by the Ethiopian armed forces against thousands of innocent Somalis had been carried out with arms furnished to Ethiopia by the U.S. Government, and expressing the hope that the United States, having realized the gravity of the situation currently existing between Somalia and Ethiopia, would stop furnishing arms to Ethiopia. (Ibid., 775.5/4-2062)