101. Memorandum From Harold Horan and Richard T. Kennedy of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1 2

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SUBJECT:

  • US Military Assistance to Ethiopia

The purpose of this memorandum is to alert you to a problem regarding our military assistance to Ethiopia that requires urgent action. State is working on this and we wanted to weigh in on the side of quick action. The elements of the problem are these:

  • We have yet to respond to the Emperor’s May 1973 request to the President for increased military assistance except with general assurances of our desire to keep aid at current levels subject to Congressional appropriation. A package was designed, including a $12.5 million MAP grant for FY 1974, and a commitment to a 3-year FMS credit program of $5 million per year beginning FY 1974, but the Ethiopians have not been informed.
  • DOD has been opposed to informing the Ethiopians of the credit program until they receive from Secretary Schlesinger some signal as to the priority he assigns our P–3 staging request to the Ethiopians—a request the Ethiopians have indicated they would be reluctant to meet without a quid pro quo.
  • —State, on the other hand, believes, that whether or not we wish to pursue P–3 staging, we need to inform the Ethiopians now (and in Addis not Washington) of the FMS credit program, keeping it in the context of a response to the Emperor’s May request and separated from P–3 staging or any other request (home porting) we might make in the future to strengthen our Indian Ocean presence.
  • —The problem has been further complicated by a request this week from the Emperor (Tab A) that his Prime Minister come to Washington in March to see the President to review our relations and to explore the possibility of increased US military assistance. The Emperor’s desire to send his Prime Minister to Washington was motivated by what would seem to him a renewed US interest in Ethiopia in the wake of the P–3 basing request, the Diego Garcia [Page 2]expansion, and increased US interest in the Indian Ocean.
  • —For some time, the Foreign Minister has been scheduled to visit the United States in March at the suggestion of Assistant Secretary Newsom. The purpose of the visit was to have him meet with key congressmen who could enlighten him on the restraints we face in our military assistance program. For the Prime Minister to head the delegation would turn this exercise around; it would become a major effort for more assistance that could be both unproductive and embarrassing for him and us.
  • —Until we have determined more precisely what additional support we want from Ethiopia and what we would be prepared to give in return, there is little we could say to the Prime Minister beyond general reassurances of our interest in Ethiopia.

State is preparing a message to Embassy Addis for your approval that would:

  • —Authorize the Embassy to inform the Ethiopians of our military assistance package.
  • —Convey a message from you to the Foreign Minister welcoming his visit in March and suggesting that the Prime Minister not come at this time.

Given the very tight MAP/FMS resource situation, there is little hope that we can do much more in the way of assistance than the package already agreed. Accordingly we agree with State that an urgent message along the lines outlined above is needed now in the hope that we can dissuade the Prime Minister from visiting the US at this time, help put the Foreign Minister’s trip back into the original context—an educational exercise exposing him to congressional restraints on military aid—, and dampen any false hopes he may harbour of receiving large amounts of increased military assistance during his visit.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 736, Country Files, Africa, Ethiopia Vol. II. Secret. Sent for information. A handwritten notation next to the word “Information” reads: “Urgent.” A handwritten note, dated February 23, on White House notepaper under the initials RCM was attached to the document and reads: “Mtg w/Sec for clrnc. Scowcroft has seen and been briefed as to Horan concurrence.” Tab A, telegram 1859 from Addis Ababa, February 19, is not published.
  2. Horan and Kennedy informed Kissinger of the need to make an urgent decision about Haile Selassie’s May 1973 request for military assistance.