234. Telegram 108761/T110717 From the Department of State to Secretary of State Kissinger1 2


  • Action Memorandum: Normalizing Relations With Sudan (S/S No. 7608361–7608362)

Exdis to the Secretary from AF-Seelye

1. The problem:

At your meeting of April 7, you told Sudanese Ambassador Deng that we would take another look at what ought to be done toward further normalization, particularly if it is not to be too demonstrative. You also told Deng that you were sympathetic to the private visit President Nimeiri intends to make to the US in June, and that you would discuss the possibility of a meeting for Nimeiri with the President in terms of his schedule. On May 3 the GOS was instrumental in obtaining the release of Steven Campbell and James Harrell, two civilian employees of Collins Int. Service Corp.

2. Background/Analysis:

The last step in the process of normalizing relations with the Sudan was your approval on February 11 of a dols. 25,000 special self-help program. This was done as an expression of appreciation for GOS assistance in obtaining on January 9 the release of two of the five Americans then held by Eritrean insurgents and to encourage the Sudanese to continue their efforts on behalf of the American hostages. The GOS on May 3 delivered to us two more Americans freed from captivity in Eritrea, and we feel the GOS will pursue its efforts to obtain the releas of Ronald Michalke, the remaining hostage.

Sudanese leaders have always understood the reasons impelling us to cool our bilateral relationship when they released the assassins of our Ambassador and DCM in June 1974. They feel, however, that we have made our point and that to continue the limitations of our relations after 21 months is a penalty out of proportion to the offense, especially since the assassins continue to be detained by the Egyptians. Ambassador Deng stressed this last point with you to emphasize that the GOS does not feel its record on balance is so bad.

Despite their unhappiness with the delay in restoring normal relations, the GOS has remained fully cooperative with us in many ways, in addition to their efforts with the detained Americans. This cooperation is doubtlessly aimed in part at encouraging us to resume normal relations. A continuation of our present policy of restraints risks, I believe, souring Sudanese attitudes toward us, a result which could have a negative impact on Sudan’s interest in welcoming American business in the short run and over the long haul, possibly affect Sudan’s consistently moderate Arab viewpoint, especially in the Arab-Israeli context.

Ambassador Deng is investing considerable effort during his last days in Washington toward arranging a private visit by President Nimeiri to the U.S. in June. The visit began as a result of an invitation for Nimeiri to visit Tennessee as a guest of Governor Blanton, who had had a successful visit to Khartoum last fall. The Sudanese Embassy is presently discussing with several states the possibility of a Nimeiri visit. These states so far include Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas. Deng told you the Nimeiri visit would be to demonstrate his good will as well as to look into the potential for economic and other cooperation that might come from private interests in the U.S. you told Deng you were sympathetic to the visit and that despite the President’s heavy schedule of bicentennial visitors in june you would discuss with the President the possibility of Nimeiri calling on him.

Ambassador Brewer in Khartoum believes that the Sudanese leaders may now be at a watershed in their outlook toward the U.S. and that further delay on our part in normalizing relations could lead them to reexamine if not re-orient some of their policies. The Soviet Union has recently provided the Sudanese Air Force 10 MIG 17’s and may be willing to do more in order to exploit the situation, having in mind the Sudan’s economic potential. On the other hand American business interests, willing and welcome to do business in the Sudan, would be greatly encouraged by a favorable USG gesture toward the Sudan.

3. The options.—————————

Option I—Inform the GOS that we are agreeable to full normalization of our bilateral relations and request the President to receive Nimeiri when the latter visits the U.S. in June. (There would be no specificity in program details or timing of resumption of aid. We would be merely willing to consider any eventual GOS requests on a normal basis.)


—This would satisfy GOS desires for fully normal relations, and have an important favorable psychological impact.

—It would constitute recognition of Sudanese efforts aimed at obtaining the release of the detained Americans.

—A call on the President would dramatically symbolize a return to normality.


—Lack of any concrete AID program offers may disappoint the GOS.

Option II—Inform the GOS that we are taking several further steps toward normalization, indicating to them the specific projects (see recommendations).


—This demonstrates our goodwill while pointing out our ability to move forward now only on certain specific projects.

—It underlines our recognition of GOS efforts on behalf of the American captives.

—Specific projects approved may be of immediate interest to GOS.


GOS may be displeased that despite specific project offers this option does not have psychological impact of full normalization.

4. Bureau views.

AF favors option 1 which by fully normalizing relations would achieve the maximum favorable impact in Khartoum. Moreover, it does not obligate us to deliver any specific program at this time but merely places us in the position to consider in the future program requests from Sudan on the basis of their own merits and in relation to our resource availability.

5. Recommendation:

That you approve a resumption of fully normal bilateral relations with Sudan without program specificity. (Option 1, favored by AF)


Additionally, that you approve transmission of the attached memorandum to the President (Tab 1) requesting him to receive President Nimeiri.


Alternatively, that you approve informing the GOS that we are taking one or more of the following as further steps in the process of normalization:

A) Seeking inter-agency approval of a modest FY 1977 PL–480 Title I program.


B) Reopening our defense attache office at Khartoum.


C) Considering sympathetically a modest assistance program in agricultural training for the two new Sudanese universities.


D) Reestablishing a modest military training program in the U.S. for Sudanese officers.


6. Attachment: Memorandum for the President

7. Drafted by: RFilling

8. Clearances: S/CCT: Mr. Hurwitz EB/ORF: Mr. Service AFR/ESA: Mr. Machmer M: Mr. Eagleburger P: Mr. Sisco S/S: RWaherne


9. Tab 1—Memorandum for the President from Joseph J. Sisco—Subject: Appointment with the President for Nimeiri of the Sudan

10. President Gaafar Muhammed Nimeiri of the Sudan intends to visit the United States privately during the period June 10–26. He has received an invitation from Governor Blanton of Tennessee, and the Sudanese Embassy in Washington is now discussing with officials of Idaho, Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin the possibility of Nimeiri also visiting those states. The visit will be to demonstrate Sudanese goodwill toward the United States and to explore the potential for economic and other cooperation that might be available to Sudan from private U.S. Interests.

-When departing Sudanese Ambassador Deng saw Secretary Kissinger on April 7, he mentioned Nimeiri’s desire to come to Washington and call on you. The Secretary told Deng that he would discuss the possibility of a meeting with you in terms of your schedule.

The Sudanese Government’s release to the Egyptians of the assassins of our Ambassador and his Deputy seriously disturbed Sudanese/American relations. The Egyptians, however, have kept the assassins in detention since june 1974. Following the release we withdrew our Ambassador and took a number of other actions to demonstrate our disapproval. The Sudanese have subsequently expressed to us their understanding for our action. The intervening period has witnessed a gradual but steady normalization of relations, although significant holds still remain.

The Sudanese Government has strongly supported U.S. initiatives in the Middle East, and has been a moderating influence in the area. Nimeiri was the only Arab leader to give unqualified support to Sadat’s Sinai II accord. Sudanese officials, including Nimeiri personally, were instrumental in obtaining the release of two American captives seized by Eritrea, and they continue unstintingly to seek the release of the remaining three captives.

The Secretary believes the time has now come to normalize relations fully, particularly in view of the helpful Sudanese attitudes and actions. We believe, therefore, that it would be highly desirable for you to meet briefly with Nimeiri while he is in the U.S. on a private visit. Such a meeting with you will provide the sort of psychological boost to our relations that the Sudanese so ardently desire. Moreover, your reception of Nimeiri would indicate clearly that we had now put the past behind us.

11. Recommendation:————————-

That you agree to meet briefly with President Nimeiri when he visits the U.S. in June.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1976. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Robert S. Barrett in AF/E, cleared in S, by Sisco and Eagleburger, approved by Seelye. No action indicated, but in a briefing memorandum Scowcroft prepared for Ford’s June 10 meeting with Nimeiri, he noted the May 17 approval of returning to normal bilateral relations with Sudan. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 6, Country Files, South Africa-State Department Telegrams, Sudan (2))
  2. The Telegram transmitted an Action Memorandum on normalizing relations with Sudan to Secretary Kissinger, who was traveling abroad. The memorandum recommended resuming full relations with Sudan and attached a separate memorandum for President Ford that recommended he meet with President Nimeiri.