82. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

43255. For the Charge from the Secretary. Subject: Meeting With Dobrynin.

[Page 280]

1. Ambassador Dobrynin came in this morning at his request.

2. He delivered a non paper in response to our inquiries on February 142 about the Soviet attitude toward bringing the question of the Horn to the Security Council. In brief, the Soviet position is that they prefer that we try first to ascertain fully whether there is any possibility of OAU action. He said that they had checked with most of the African states at the UN and found them to be opposed to raising the matter in the Security Council. It was agreed that we would talk again next week, after further soundings. I informed Dobrynin that we had made representations to the Somalis urging the withdrawal of their troops.

3. I reported to Dobrynin that we would have a low-level U.S. delegation going to South Africa on February 20 to continue our efforts to gain South African agreement to adhere to the NPT and also to seek further information on the Kalahari test side [site?].

4. We discussed again briefly the discrepancies between the Pravda editorial on SALT and the Soviet position at Geneva. Dobrynin said that he had checked his own files and did not find adequate information on this point. We agreed to supply information, particularly concerning the two disparities on cruise testing and on wide-bodied aircraft.

5. Text of Soviet non paper:

We have already more than once exchanged opinions at various levels concerning the Somali-Ethiopian conflict. The U.S. side could not help noticing that the Soviet Union from the very beginning consistently pursues a principled line in this matter. It is known that in this conflict there is one side which unleashed it and the other side which is a victim of an aggressive action. There was no lack in the efforts by the Soviet Union to prevent the Somali-Ethiopian conflict, to induce both sides to search for peaceful ways of solving problems existing between them.

And the U.S. side is well aware of that.

To face the truth, it is obvious that the Somali leadership, encouraged by certain forces from outside and counting on their help, has embarked on the path which cannot be regarded otherwise than that of aggression.

Moscow would like to draw the attention of the U.S. side to the positions of the majority of African states which did not and do not support the expansionist policy of the Somali leadership. We are getting an impression that neither the organization of African unity nor its appropriate bodies have so far exhausted all possibilities to obtain a settlement of the Somali-Ethiopian conflict on a just basis. Therefore Moscow [Page 281] expresses great doubt with regard not only to the advisability but also to the usefulness of submitting this question to the UN Security Council for consideration. What is at the basis of this approach?

Firstly, the parties to the conflict themselves—Somalia and Ethiopia—did not and do not put forward such a proposal. Moreover, Ethiopia pronounces itself against the discussion of this question in the UN Security Council in order not to internationalize the conflict.

Secondly, as it has been already mentioned, the Organization of African Unity and its committee established specifically for the purpose of mediation in a settlement of the conflict, continue their efforts, which is in keeping with the position of the majority of member states of that organization. And the consideration of the question in the Security Council would be detrimental to the efforts of the OAU, would depreciate its importance and could lead to differences among its members.

Thirdly, we proceed from the necessity to prevent further aggravation of the situation around the Horn of Africa. If our understanding is correct the U.S. side also proceeds from this. Whereas the consideration of this question within the framework of the Security Council would rather aggravate the situation, would cause between the sides in the conflict undesirable polemics which would also inevitably involve Security Council members themselves.

Finally, the specific questions mentioned by the Secretary of State as a possible subject of discussion in the Security Council, are obviously unbalanced and provide evident advantages to the side that unleashed aggression, i.e. to Somalia which could use the presence of its troops in the territory of Ethiopia for bargaining from the position of force.

As we have already stated on more than one occasion the Soviet Union is always prepared to cooperate with the United States, in the United Nations as well, but, naturally, not at the expense of the interests of third countries. Moscow continues to believe that an effective settlement of the conflict in the Horn of Africa may be achieved on the basis of the proposals we have already set forth which, as we understand, coincide to some extent also with your proposals, namely, not only by way of the cessation of hostilities but also through a complete and immediate withdrawal of the Somali forces from the seized areas of Ethiopia and through negotiations between the parties on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignity, territorial integrity, inviolability of frontiers and non-interference into each other’s internal affairs.

As for the apprehensions concerning possibilities of crossing the border of Somalia by the Ethiopian troops after the liberation of the Ogaden is completed, we, as it has been already repeatedly stated to the U.S. side, continue to regard with full confidence the well-known [Page 282] statements by the leaders of Ethiopia to the effect that they have no intentions to invade the territory of Somalia.

We would like to hope that the efforts by the states interested in an early settlement of the Somali-Ethiopian conflict on the basis of the above-mentioned principles will find understanding also on the part of the U.S. side. End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 3, CV–Dobrynin, 2/18/78. Secret; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Shulman; approved by Tarnoff.
  2. See Document 81.