289. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia 1

793. Ref: Khartoum’s 388.2 Department has welcomed reftel indications Ethio-Somali negotiations now scheduled proceed on or about [Page 503] March 24. Would appreciate confirmation and comment Embassies Addis and Mogadiscio and, if confirmed, conveyance to respective host governments our satisfaction that this further step toward peaceful settlement their differences under OAU aegis has now been taken.

For Khartoum: Department desires do all it appropriately can both through parties to dispute and through Sudanese to further successful outcome without becoming involved in active good offices of in any way assuming basic African responsibility for solution to present problem. In discussions of matter with Sudanese, if it would seem appropriate within above context, you may indicate our interest in successful talks and state we have studied problem for considerable period, as have Sudanese. First step, in our opinion, should be to get confirmation of willingness both sides preserve cease-fire and propaganda moratorium. Beyond this you may express view that failure past efforts at talks due in part to attempt at outset attack basic territorial/border problem and that better prospects might result if effort were made find areas where understanding and cooperation were possible, apart from basic issue. To extent Sudanese have opportunity discuss conduct talks with the two participants, they may find useful our own thoughts on problem. You may mention that some possibilities which have been mentioned and to some extent explored in past are:

Mutual agreement to pursue actively with international agencies (e.g., UN Special Fund) and other interested parties possibilities for joint development Webi Shebelli River Basin.
Exchange of air rights (e.g., traffic rights at Mogadiscio for Ethiopian Air Lines in exchange for overflight rights for Somali civilian aircraft on direct Mogadiscio-Hargeisa run).
Somali agreement permit Ethiopian use Somali ports (Chisimaio, Mogadiscio, Berbera) on preferential basis.
Ethiopian agreement permit Somali civilian motor transport transit Ethiopian territory via most direct route between Hargeisa and Mogadiscio when Ogaden security situation permits.
Somali agreement permit pipeline construction across Somali Republic territory should oil be discovered inside Ethiopian territory.

Should progress these matters establish proper atmosphere, it might then be possible proceed to discuss:

Agreement establish joint committee to study and make recommendations for improvement liaison in border areas and for regularization border-crossing arrangements.
Agreement establish joint commission to demarcate on ground provisional administrative line between Ethiopia and ex-Italian portion Somalia.

[Page 504]

Would appreciate further suggestions along above lines which Embassies Addis Ababa and Mogadiscio might wish provide.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI. Confidential. Drafted by Post; cleared by Galanto, Officer in Charge of Sudanese Affairs Robert N. Stookey, and Newsom; and approved by Tasca. Also sent to Mogadiscio and Khartoum, and repeated to Asmara.
  2. Telegram 388 from Khartoum, March 16, reported that both Ethiopia and Somalia had agreed to begin negotiations in Khartoum on or about March 24. (Ibid.)
  3. In Khartoum, the two sides negotiated a cease-fire beginning April 1 and agreed to establish a Joint Somali-Ethiopian Border Commission to control the movement of troops displaced along both sides of the border. The Commission began its work on April 8.