284. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy 0

Following last minute developments are worth noting before your talk with Abdirascid:

We have a report that Somalia, backed by Arab states, may bring Ethiopia’s recent formal annexation of Eritrea before the UN (Eritrea was “federated” with Ethiopia as part of the Italian colonies settlement). Though we hardly applaud Haile Selassie’s action, we ought to tell Abdirascid that for Somalia to complain to the UN about it would not only be futile but further exacerbate Somali-Ethiopian relations. If they refrain instead, we could tell Selassie the Somalis did so as a contribution to better relations.
In his final audience with Selassie, Richards asked his reaction to possible US military aid to Somalia (see Addis 299 attached).1 Selassie doubted this would either enhance US influence or preclude Communist aid, but said he would not object if we decided to go ahead. So the field is clear. Selassie has also accepted your invitation for a visit in 1963.
Before Abdirascid’s departure, State tried to remove one recent irritant in US-Somali relations by promising three DC-3’s for an internal Somali airline on condition that the Somalis arrange for effective management and agree not to accept Soviet aid for the line. We had promised these planes a year ago but withdrew the offer when we thought erroneously that the Somalis were negotiating for Soviet management. Abdirascid was annoyed by the withdrawal and is not fully satisfied with our conditions for renewing the offer. If he raises this, you may want to soft-pedal the conditions by describing them as simply a normal effort to insure effective use of our aid and to assure Congress that it will not be mixed with Soviet aid.
Abdirascid also let his hair down on the US aid program. He feels our procedures are too slow, conditions too restrictive, and that we often fail to consult the Somalis. AID rejoins that the chief difficulties are poor Somali planning and lack of coordination within the Somali government. If Abdirascid brings up this issue, why not agree that improved US-Somali cooperation is essential but deliver a little lecture on the need for sound planning and self-help. Our projects take time because we, unlike the Soviets, are more interested in making a well-planned economic contribution than a political splash.
The Somalis have made a pitch for Abdirascid to see you alone. State doesn’t know what he wants to say. Since his English is only fair, State will have an Italian-speaking interpreter (our visitor’s Italian is fluent). We have no good Somali speaker available, so will have to depend on their interpreter if they choose Somali.
A supplementary State memo is attached.2
R. W. Komer
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Somalia. Secret.
  2. Not attached to the source text. Telegram 299 from Addis Ababa, November 24, reported Ambassador Richards’ discussion of Ethiopian-Somali relations with the Emperor during his farewell audience on November 23. (Department of State, Central Files, 777.5/11-2462)
  3. Attached to the source text but not printed is a paper entitled “Visit of the Somali Prime Minister, November 27-December 2, 1962: Contingency Talking Paper for the President.”