284. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Harriman)1


  • Courses of Action on Ethiopian-Somali Dispute
We have two sets of problems in connection with the present Ethiopian-Somali dispute: (a) how best to use our influence in bringing about a cease-fire and a more permanent settlement within an African context; (b) how to prevent serious deterioration in our relations with either party.
In connection with the dispute, itself, we have:
Encouraged the nations of the OAU which gave preliminary consideration to the problem at Dar-Es-Salaam and are considering it in greater depth at Lagos on Monday.2 We have provided guidance to Embassy Lagos on our views.
Encouraged the interest of the African states who have moved individually to mediate. These include the Sudan, Tanganyika and [Page 497] Morocco. The role of the Sudan was the key to arranging the present cease-fire. Both to commend this and to encourage continuing Sudanese interest, we have proposed a Presidential message to General Abboud. We have also proposed to the Sudanese that they suggest the creation of a frontier observation team and the creation of an African group to examine the longer-range aspects, perhaps through the use of some internationally prominent person.
Our relations with Ethiopia are in mild jeopardy because of the Emperor’s feeling that we should take his side completely in the dispute. We have, accordingly, proposed a Presidential message to him emphasizing the priority we attached to an end to the fighting.3
Our relations with Somalia are seriously jeopardized because of a growing belief, even among moderate elements including the President, that we are giving undue aid to Ethiopia. Wild rumors are being passed by the Soviets, Chinese Communists and the Egyptians that the US is backing “aggressive policies by Ethiopia.” We have instructed our Ambassador to make demarches to leading figures on this matter and are proposing a message to President Aden.4
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI. Secret. Drafted by Newsom.
  2. February 24.
  3. See Document 286.
  4. See Document 285.