96. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1 2

PRESENT

  • The Secretary of State: Henry A. Kissinger
  • Kenneth Rush William J. Porter
  • Curtis W. Tarr
  • William Bowdler
  • William J. Casey
  • Joseph J. Sisco
  • Arthur W. Hummel, Jr.
  • David D. Newsom George S. Springsteen
  • Thomas V. Pickering
  • Winston Lord
[Page 1] [Page 2]

[Omitted here are portions of the discussion unrelated to the Horn of Africa.]

MR. NEWSOM: Finally, we put a memo in, Mr. [Page 3]Secretary, on the current situation in Ethiopia. It did not mention one important fact, and that is that the Emperor is going to Moscow for an official visit on the 30th of October. The Foreign Minister returned to continue to repeat his unhappiness over our military assistance package, which you heard from him. And part of his demarche to Ambassador Adair, I think, was to signal that they are going to use this as a justification for some shift in their foreign policy.

They have put their whole emphasis on the smallness of the military assistance package.

I think it will be probably manifested in a break or some kind of reduction in their relations with Israel and perhaps a change in their position on the Korean issue in New York.

Now, it seems to me we have three options. We could try to make a high-level approach to the Emperor, with a letter from the President, to try and stiffen his backbone in this. We can say that we understand their problems, that we are doing all we can, and that we hope they, will take that into account, and that we hope they will take that into account, but not make any major demarches. Or one [Page 4]possible option, which I don’t think we want to follow, is to take a tougher line and say if their policy changes, we will have to give some further thought to the major effort that we are making on their behalf. My own feeling is that at the moment we should follow the second option—that is in a low key, to acknowledge that they may have to make some changes, but to keep reiterating that our interest in the situation is doing all we can.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I don’t think we should encourage them to make the changes, or even tacitly agree with it.

MR. NEWSOM: We should continue our demarches in opposition to changes, but not—

SECRETARY KISSINGER: What do you think of a Presidential letter, before he goes to Moscow?

MR. NEWSOM: My chief hesitation on it, Mr. Secretary, is I am not sure it will do the trick in their present state of mind. And I have some question about whether we want to use the President in this present context, just before he is going to Moscow, looking like we are pleading with him. On the other hand, I can see the value, in view of our interest there, of some stiffening. My own inclination is not to recommend the letter.

[Page 5]

MR. LORD: Mr. Secretary, one thing I don’t understand—they usually want military assistance because of KAGNEW, and now there is not KAGNEW, they want more military assistance because they no longer have it.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: We used KAGNEW as an excuse. They wanted it against Somalia.

MR. NEWSOM: It is more than Somalia. It is this traditional belief that they are encircled by unfriendly-Arabs.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Which is true.

MR. NEWSOM: Except for the Sudan, with which their relations are reasonably good, and which is the only Arab state with which they are contiguous I don’t know whether you have seen, Mr. Secretary, the INR and CIA comments on the relative strengths of Ethopia and Somalia. They both come out with a feeling that Ethiopia has no major military problem at the moment in terms of a threat of Somalia. But it is virtually impossible to convince the Ethiopians of that.

MR. PORTER: Will he do another hundred million dollar stunt this time in Moscow? You remember that famous credit? That scared everybody to death here. And not a [Page 6]damned thing happened.

MR. NEWSOM: They still haven’t drawn down about $11 million of that $100 million.

MR. PORTER: He is a great old boy for just that kind of thing.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: He is the world’s greatest.

MR. NEWSOM: I think if we send a Presidential letter, we will get another shopping list back, and then if we are not able to fulfill that, he will go ahead as he probably intends to do now. My own inclination is to play it in a lower key.

MR. TARR: What was the last shopping list—$450 million?

MR. NEWSOM: Yes. They reduced it to $235 million. That is over a five-year period.

MR. TARR: And he has told us he has the promise that the Soviets will take over his needs if he will kick us out.

MR. NEWSOM: That is right.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: He can claim he has done that, now we have left KAGNEW. All right. I will think about it.

[Omitted here are portions of the discussion unrelated to the Horn of Africa.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 10, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. Newsom’s Briefing Memorandum to Kissinger, October 19, included INR’s assessment of Ethiopia and Somalia. (Ibid., Central Files, 1970–73, POL ETH-US)
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger and his staff discussed the planned visit of Haile Selassie to Moscow and options for a U.S. response.