288. Telegram 1208 From the Embassy in Somalia to the Department of State 1 2

[Page 1]

Joint Embassy/USAID


  • Somali Flag Shipping and US Bilateral Assistance


  • State 56268 and 56420

1. Summary. In accordance with instructions contained reftels, and later messages, I called today on General Siad, President SRC, to inform him of the termination US bilateral assistance to Somalia as of June 1, 1970. Procedures for an orderly phase-out were outlined, and Siad agreed with them in principle. His response was sober. Overtones of his remarks raise likelihood of additional strain in US-Somali relations as result this action. End summary

2. After reviewing efforts of many months to find mutually acceptable solution to Somali flag shipping problem, and stressing mandatory nature of foreign assistance legislation re shipping going to North Vietnam (and Cuba) I informed General Siad that US would have to terminate bilateral aid June 1. I defined assistance which would be terminated, e.g. education, agriculture, public safety and self-help, and pointed out that future bilateral assistance, [Page 2] including PL 480, would also be precluded. I also defined assistance on which commitments have been made and thus not effected, e.g. completion Chisimaio repairs, present Mogadiscio water loan, present SDB loan, projects clearly regional, and contributions to international organizations such as IBRD and UNDP. I next explained Section 617 of FAA. I proposed USAID Director and I initiate discussion with appropriate Secretaries of Ministries concerned, with view to working out orderly procedure for phase-out of aid. Finally, I reemphasized world-wide nature of requirement, fact that cessation of aid not directed solely at Somalia, and that action did not represent change in desire of USG for friendly and mutually respected relations with Somalia.

3. General Siad received above information with great seriousness and in his reply made three principal points. He renewed his personal assurances of respect toward me his appreciation of my desire to be helpful to the Somali people. He then expressed dismay (despite my emphasis on mandatory nature of legislation that President Nixon had not been able to find a way of preventing this action, which would harm the Somali people in their efforts to fight poverty. Finally, with sadness and concern, he said, “You and I have lost. These persons saying that the U.S. is opposed to Somalia and that the U.S. wishes to prevent Somaliaʼs growth will say they are right.” He expressed the hope that this action would not damage too seriously the relations of the two countries.

[Page 3]

4. General Siad agreed with my proposed procedure for discussions with Secretaries on phase-out, adding that matter, of course, would have to be discussed by Supreme Revolutionary Council. He concluded conversation by agreeing with me that our task ahead was to work out a method whereby the termiination of aid would have as little harmful effect on people as possible. In the course of the conversation, Siad referred to efforts of Warsama, Secretary of Communications, to find solution via Soderi in Paris. (Warsama has not heard from Paris yet) I noted that if effective action to stop trade were taken, it might be possible reconsider decision, but gave him no hope this would, in fact, be likely.

5. Comment: Any time is a poor time carry out instruction to cut off assistance to a country as desperately poor and intensely sensitive as Somalia. But action at this time could hardly be better calculated to strengthen suspicion of the United States, accelerate greater dependence on Communist assistance, and add to the sizeable problems facing American private firms in Somalia. Despite our efforts (and Siad appeared agree my proposal of no local publicity), the widely spread rumors [Page 4] that the U.S. is pulling out will appear confirmed. The fifteen-man East German delegation here to discuss economic assistance will undoubtedly receive even more urgent requests. Western nuclear will most likely feel repercussions. While it is difficult to predict the exact effect on our own relations with Somalia, none of us expects the next few weeks to see the recent trend of increasing strain and harassment.

6. Text talking points being pouched to AFE.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, STR 10 VIETN. Secret; Priority. Repeated priority to Addis Ababa. Also repeated to Nairobi, Rome, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Ambassador Hadsel reported that he had informed General Siad that U.S. bilateral assistance would terminate as of June 1, 1970. Hadsel believed this would further strain U.S.-Somali relations.