20. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Meeting of Somali Ambassador Addou with President Carter, Oval Office, 2:00–2:20 p.m., 16 June 1977


  • President Carter
  • Ambassador Addou
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Talcott Seelye, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa
  • Paul B. Henze, NSC

The meeting opened with Ambassador Addou making a rather extensive statement to the President. He said he appreciated the great honor of being received by the President and wished to convey greetings from President Siad and his admiration for the President’s stand on human rights. “There is no political oppression in Somalia,” he declared, “and Somalia’s people are deeply democratic by nature.” He went on to comment that the situation in the region was becoming more complicated: “For social and economic development we need peace and must be able to defend ourselves.” He said that his government was grateful for the U.S. economic mission that had just visited Mogadiscio.2 “We also want to be able to count on the U.S. for our defense. The USSR is putting enormous pressure on the Somali government to accept its idea of Soviet hegemony in the area. International socialism is supposed to come first and national interests second. Somalia’s national interests must come first and other forms of cooperation come afterward.” The Ambassador added that Somalis value their independence too highly to be willing to consider joining together with Ethiopia or other countries in the area. He described a “problem of human rights” with Ethiopia—two million Somalis in Ethiopia, he said, want to be free of Ethiopian rule. To protect its interests, Somalia needs both economic and military assistance, he said, and President Siad will be waiting for an answer. In conclusion he summed up his position: “We must either resist Soviet pressure or succumb. We hope not to [Page 52] have to succumb, which would be contrary to our national heritage. We appreciate the deep interest you have shown in the Somali people since you came to office. For years we have sought improved relations with the United States, but we were not listened to.”

President Carter asked the Ambassador to convey to President Siad his strong personal good wishes and thanks for his interest, which parallels ours, in having an increasingly strong friendship with Somalia. The President also asked that his congratulations be conveyed to the Ambassador’s daughter and President Siad’s son who will be married shortly. The President then went on to comment that the United States has been concerned about the closeness between Somalia and the USSR which had been a reason for doubt on our part that our friendship could be strong but, he said, “I believe that is now changing—we have watched with care the development of Berbera and the calls of Soviet ships there; we also have the impression that Soviet anti-submarine airplanes have been flying from Somalia. Because of the independent nature of the Somali people, we feel you are well able to take care of your own interests. We are eager to understand your needs more clearly. But it is hard for us to understand the military needs. A military attache would be helpful in giving us more understanding of your military needs. We do not want to compete with the USSR because we want Somalia to be non-aligned and not dominated by anyone. We can move more easily on a unilateral basis to give economic aid than military aid. We are trying to work with the Saudis3 and our European allies4 to see that Somalia has adequate defense capabilities without relying on the Soviet Union. We want the Somalis to recognize their own destiny. We hope your problems with Ethiopia can be peacefully worked out, and we are pleased that the TFAI will be encouraged in its independence by everyone in the area. I hope your own people will see an advantage in seeking progress with multinational friends, not by relying just on us but by relying on European countries, too. We are cooperating carefully with them and with the Saudis. In meetings with some of our European friends we have discussed Somalia and how important it is to have it associated with us as a democratic country. We appreciate your own personal friendship with our country and we recognize you as a spokesman for democratic processes and freedom. There is no doubt that you represent your nation well and [Page 53] report our views well to your government and that means a great deal to us.”

The President continued:

“We recognize the strategic importance of your country because of the character and attitude of your people and your insistence on independence of action and thought. You can have a very important influence in your whole region. The degree with which we can communicate freely is important, of course, and we do appreciate the steady but very gratifying trend toward the removal of past doubts and misunderstandings and difficulties. The trends are all in the right direction. We are very hopeful—and the members of the Congress share my hope—that they will culminate in a completely comfortable relationship between our country and yours.”

The Ambassador commented briefly on the fact that Somalis are 100% religious people and took his prayer beads out of his pocket to emphasize that he himself prayed five times each day. He went on to say that the Soviets came to Somalia because the Somalis had had no choice—“but now we see in you, Mr. President, hope and inspiration. We hope your human rights drive encourages other people.” The President at this point rose to say that he would like to step out for a moment to get a small gift he would like the Ambassador to take back to President Siad. Meanwhile, Dr. Brzezinski asked the Ambassador whether President Siad had made any public declarations about human rights. The Ambassador noted that Siad had condemned the killings that were taking place in Ethiopia and had taken Idi Amin to task for his cruelty. Dr. Brzezinski asked whether Siad had said anything publicly about President Carter’s human rights position. The Ambassador indicated that he had not but that he expected he would. The President returned with a volume of U.S. satellite photography which was examined briefly by the Ambassador and the President and then good-byes and good wishes were exchanged.

The Ambassador said he would return from Somalia at the end of August and he hoped there would be good developments by then. Dr. Brzezinski accompanied the Ambassador to his car.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special, Box 1, Chron File: 6–7/77. Confidential. The meeting was held in the White House Oval Office. Paul Henze noted in the upper right corner, “Cy [copy] to Gerald Scott 6–17” and “to H Richardson 6/17 w/note to ck [check] with Christine [Dodson] re procedure.”
  2. The AID survey mission visited Mogadiscio May 24–June 2. Telegram 894 from Mogadiscio, June 2, transmitted a summary of the mission’s activities. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770196–0816)
  3. In telegram 8402 from Cairo, May 18, the Embassy reported on consultations between Seelye and Prince Saud on U.S. cooperation with Saudi Arabia in dealing with the Horn of Africa. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770177–0634) See also footnote 3, Document 11.
  4. In telegram 15290 from Paris, May 25, the Embassy reported on ongoing discussions with the French Foreign Ministry on the Horn of Africa. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770186–0666)