97. Telegram 12831 From the Embassy in Ethiopia to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • Security Assistance for Ethiopia


  • State 220349
Assistant Secretary Newsom chose not to inform Emperor in his conversation November 8 that Secretary is recommending to President that USG provide Sidewinders, nor has he done so during other conversations in Addis Ababa, pending further consideration of matter.
We have not been able to confirm from other source USDAO report that Soviets assured Emperor during his Moscow visit they will exercise restraint in future delivery of weapons to Somalia. To the contrary, FonMin Minassie said to A/Secy Newsom that Soviets told him they would not provide such assurances as long as Ethiopia maintains its present “unfriendly posture.” In any event, it is of course possible that Somalia would attempt use USG provision of Sidewinders to press Soviets for additional military equipment. We would think Soviets are sufficiently aware of Ethiopian military weaknesses so that they would not be greatly impressed by this argument. In any case, provision of [Page 2] Sidewinders is clearly the most effective measure of military assistance which we can take at this time within limits of USG resources and limits of Ethiopian budgetary/technical capabilities. Sidewinders involve minimal costs in terms of installation, training programs and maintenance. They would not draw resources from economic development. From a political standpoint, provision of Sidewinders is the most impressive step we can take to demonstrate to IEG sincerity of our desire to respond to the recent great increase in their security concerns. We therefore consider it most desirable that recommendation go forward to President for provision of Sidewinders. We would not plan notify IEG until this recommendation had been approved.
IEG may still decide that it desires obtain supplementary assistance from other sources. As Secretary Newsom informed Emperor November 8, however, we understand this possibility but are confident the Emperor will give full consideration to economic and political consequences of such action.
Our hope is that by provision of Sidewinders, by suggesting IEG could also look elsewhere, but by reminding them of economic and political factors involved we can demonstrate our support but give them option to meet wider requirements beyond our capability. At same time reminder from us re consequences may serve to limit their appetite in that direction.
Secretary Newsom concurs in this message.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 736, Country Files, Africa, Ethiopia Vol. II. Secret. Also sent to USCINCEUR. Newsom sent Kissinger an Action Memorandum recommending a Presidential Determination to extend credits to Ethiopia for the purpose of providing Sidewinders on November 20. (Ibid., Central Files, 1970–73, POL ETH-US)
  2. Ambassador Adair reported that Assistant Secretary of State Newsom did not inform Haile Selassie of Kissinger’s recommendation to the President that the United States provide Sidewinders to Ethiopia. Adair, with Newsom’s concurrence, urged that the recommendation go forward.