228. Telegram 965 From the Embassy in Sudan to the Department of State1 2


  • Future Sudan/USG Relations


  • Khartoum 0867

Begin summary: While Sudanese clearly have always been ready for more help from us, recent public and private comments, including those of de facto Foreign Minister Ahmed noted below, suggest that present atmosphere particularly propitious for prompt consideration policy recommendations submitted in Embassy’s A-29 of April 7. I urge that favorable action be taken in order begin getting our bilateral relations here back in gear. Additionally, since Ahmed expressed desire review subject in greater detail shortly, would appreciate Dept’s preliminary guidance soonest though I recognize any formal decisions will take time. End summary.

1. During general discussion with MinState Jamal Muhammed Ahmed April 17, I had most extensive discussion GOS/USG relations since my return last November. Discussion was kicked off by my reference to Ahmed’s handling of questions in People’s Assembly week ago on Sudan/USG relations (reftel). Ahmed immediately responded that whole thing had been surprise to him. He had only been given notice of the first question, namely size Sudanese representation in Washington, had provided anodyne reply and sat down. [Page 2] several supplementary questions then had been asked refleceting general interest on part People’s Assembly in developing more tangible US support. He claimed members had later congratulated him on forthcoming nature his remarks.

2. I said exchanges seemed generally unexceptionable but reminded Ahmed there had been no specific reference on either side to what was, in fact, a watershed in our bilateral relations, namely unfortunate GOS decision of last June re Khartoum murders. This had obviously reversed favorable trend in assistance initiated after helpful GOS decision, in advance other Arab states in 1972, to resume relations with us. His emphasis on world-wide USG inability sustain same levels foreign assistance as had been true decades ago, however, all too true. Re his assurance to assembly that bilateral contacts were proceeding, I told him I knew of none.

3. Ahmed replied somewhat lamely that this reference had seen designed head off further probings. Choosing his words carefully, he then said that he—or perhaps President Nimeiri—would have to talk with me at greater length regarding future GOS/USG economic/cultural relations and how to handle such expressions of interest on part sudanese questioners tn future. He wondered if this would be useful.

4. I stressed that our present policy was firm though no doubt it would not endure until the end of time. As he knew, Congress and American people had been deeply upset by Sudanese action last June which had not been true to fine traditions Sudanese people. Emphasizing I was without instructions, I said would certainly be glad to meet with the President or with him at any time to discuss our bilateral relations and would report faithfully whatever I was told. But, since any funds for USG operations in Sudan had in first instance to originate with Congress, it would be matter for Washington determination in light of all circumstances if, and when, some new departure in our relationships might be contemplated. Sudanese could nevertheless always raise [Page 3] question if they did not mind risking rebuff. And it was right to bear in mind that even if events of 73–74 re Khartoum murders had not occurred, it would probably not have been possible for us to assist Sudan to same extent as had been true decade ago. Foreign aid was having increasingly difficult time in Congress and annual appropriations were regularly and substantially reduced. It would therefore be mistake for any country to assess cordiality of its relations with USG on basis comparison dollar aid it might conceivably receive with level of early sixties. Amhed said he understood but hoped some beneficial contacts could be worked out, if only with private foundations. He indicated he would consider what further action to take and would be in touch with me.

[Page 4]

5. Comment: Ahmed clearly expected me raise subject his parliamentary interpellation, but equally clearly did not seem have anything specific in mind. He is, of course, operating on new and uncertain ground without a Foreign Minister and may be somewhat unsure as to exactly what Nimeiri’s wishes may be. But it seems clear that he is groping toward some modus operandi for getting our bilateral relations once more in gear. While Ahmed clearly sought in his assembly replies to avoid embarrassing GOS by indicating some aid had been forthcoming since ’67 and bilateral contacts continuing, his remarks certainly are not embarrassing to us.

6. As to our policy itself, my own recommendation that the time has come to institute a program of normalization in our relationships was contained in Embassy’s A-29 of April 7. Subsequent People’s Assembly discussion and Ahmed’s comments to me serve to underline that any seeds we may now decide plant in the interest of fostering broader and more mutually beneficial relationships in future will fall on fertile soil. I therefore urge that prompt consideration be given to proposals in our A-29 so that we may take advantage of—and gradually foster—the present favorable atmosphere. This connection, Nimeiri’s recent public re-emphasis on need encourage private enterprise, avoid further nationalizations and remain vigilant against communist machinations (Khartoum 0936)—while self-serving—serves us too. Would appreciate guidance as to [Page 5] line I should take with Ahmed (or conceivably Nimeiri) should he follow up with summons for more detailed review our bilateral relations.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 234, Geopolitical Files, Sudan. Confidential; Exdis. Airgram A-29 from Khartoum, April 7, is located in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1975, P750067–1497.
  2. Ambassador Brewer reported that the present atmosphere in Sudan called for a prompt consideration of policy recommendations in the Embassy’s annual report. He urged favorable action so that bilateral relations could be placed “back in gear.”