288. Memorandum for the Files1


  • The Horn of Africa

Governor Williams and I met with the Secretary on March 12 to discuss the Horn of Africa.

The Secretary asked the following questions which were answered as indicated: [Page 502]

What do we mean by a modus vivendi between Ethiopia and Somalia? Does this mean recognition of Somali territorial claims?

A: We conceive a modus vivendi to embrace, first, an African peace keeping effort, including an observation group, which would stabilize the situation on the frontier and provide some breathing space for efforts at a broader settlement. The seeds of a broader settlement lie in the possibility of more moderate elements in power in Mogadiscio and in the possibilities of economic development in the general area, including particularly the Webi Shebelli valley.

Have we made clear to Kenya where we stand on Somali claims?

A: Yes. This has been done.

The Secretary made the following comments:

We should try to take advantage of the Soviet activities to strengthen our position in Ethiopia. Consideration might be given to informing the Emperor that two ships had arrived in Somalia bearing arms and stating that we were disturbed by the Soviet intrusion since we favored solving the problem in an African framework. The Soviets seem to be supporting Somalia. We might tell the Emperor that, if pressures developed from a Soviet-backed Somalia, we would come to his assistance provided he did not move across frontiers. (The point was made to the Secretary that we had, on many occasions, stressed to the Emperor our interest in the integrity of Ethiopia.)
He was leery of the US offering good offices in this situation. The matter should remain in an African context. He did not object, however, to our offering to lend equipment to the OAU for the purposes of a border patrol or observation mechanism.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI. Secret. Drafted by Newsom. Copies were sent to Edward Little in the Office of Secretary, William Lewis in INR, and Wendell Coote in AFE.