294. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia 0

12. Ref: Rome’s 2833.1 As outlined reftel numbered paragraph one, participants at Rome talks agreed US should undertake initial approach to IEG, in relatively low key, re western military aid to Somalia. Following suggested approach is provided for comment by Embassy Addis Ababa and for subsequent comment Germany, Italy and UK. Embassies Bonn, Rome and London should delay discussion this approach with FonOffs pending further instructions after Addis comments received.

Department feels approach should be made directly to Emperor in context desire acquaint him with our concern and intentions re current situation Horn of Africa, taking advantage groundwork already laid with other IEG officials. Suggest you make these points:

As HIM aware, US long interested in peace and stability Horn of Africa, including particularly territorial integrity and independence states of Horn. As problems have arisen this area and US has made decisions it has always sought keep HIM informed its concern and intentions.
We welcomed progress toward closer relations among Africans achieved at Addis conference.
We are conscious Emperor’s special concern over Somalia. We hope HIM’s efforts improve relations will be successful. As HIM knows, we have been ready at all times assist in this matter. We believe close relations important to peace of significant area of Africa.
At same time, as HIM knows, we and other western friends of Ethiopia have for some time faced problem posed by Somali determination acquire modern defensive capability. We see problem against background intention Somali Prime Minister visit Peking, significant Soviet economic efforts Somalia, Somalis training in USSR, possible Somali acquisition of Soviet-type aircraft from UAR or USSR, and of possible arms shipments from USSR or China. We believe presence Soviet arms in Somalia, particularly if they are compatible with those held by UAR, would present threat to Ethiopia as well as to stability area and interests other neighboring African states. We are conscious Soviets and Chinese might not necessarily proceed to point giving actual support Somali [Page 464] claims, but we cannot underestimate willingness of communist powers to provide sufficient aid to Somalia to complicate situation in Horn.
US and western allies have consulted on problem and feel situation can best be met by continuation limited western arms program of which HIM aware, previously instituted by Italy and UK with supplementary help from Germans and US for modernizing force for defensive purposes at modest level.
We are hopeful that programs of three western participants will soon reach stage where Somalis may be presented with both plans and tangible evidence western good faith to convince them their basic and legitimate needs for internal security and limited defensive capability will be met without resort to communists. As Emperor aware, Italy has had continuing program in this field since shortly after Somali independence and hopes delivery in near future of long-planned items will prove timely in context recent renewed overtures to Somalia from communists. While UK has of course withdrawn from this field following break in relations, FRG, as Emperor no doubt aware, has volunteered assist in this joint effort and plans shortly to conclude formal military aid agreement with Somalia. US plans provide supplement to other efforts in form small amount defensive equipment to be delivered later this year and engineering equipment, which will constitute bulk of US contribution over next several years. Latter designed enhance Somali Army’s capability to contribute to economic development and civic improvement activities and hence to stimulate them to engage in such activities. Total western program will not provide Somalis with offensive capability and arms will be delivered under most effective guarantees against misuse as can be devised.
Development this joint western program has been undertaken in full recognition of and sympathy for Ethiopian security interests. Western nations concerned have entered into this program with reluctance and only after careful assessment, concurred in by all western nations with major interests in Ethiopia and Horn, that program of extremely limited nature, providing Somalia with minimum internal security and defensive requirements, and in which powers friendly to Ethiopia maintain measure control, best serves interests of peace and security in Horn in situation where Somalis determined build defense establishment and where alternative sources supply available and being pressed on Somalis.

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In view scheduled visit Somalis to Germany July 11, German problem of protest note from IEG (separate tel), and early Italian shipment, would hope Addis comments and, subsequently, those of allies could be received in time make formal approach prior July 10.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 19 SOMALI. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Post; cleared by O’Mahony, Judd, Whitfield (DOD), Stout, Warren, Witman, and Polansky in substance and Tank (AID); and approved by Tasca. Repeated to Bonn, Rome, Mogadiscio, London, Nairobi, and Paris (also for CINCEUR).
  2. Dated June 25. (Ibid.)
  3. On July 9, Ambassador Korry reported that he had reviewed these points with the Emperor in a very friendly conversation. The Emperor had then pointed out that this was an unusually bad moment to take such action since Somalia had just reaffirmed its territorial claims against Ethiopia, Kenya, and French Somaliland. Western emphasis on establishing only a modest defense force in Somalia was meaningless if such a force were used for guerrilla warfare. In addition, the Emperor asked how the West could believe that Western aid, if it was in fact so small, would stop Somalia from obtaining more aid from the East. (Telegram 27 from Addis Ababa; ibid.)