31. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

1. The Ogaden—David Owen found Gromyko to be pessimistic concerning a possible UN initiative on the Ogaden in the UN since whoever raised it would incur the enmity of both Ethiopia and Somalia. Gromyko, who strongly supported the inviolability of borders in Africa, saw no hope for successful mediation by the OAU or any other mediator, such as Yugoslavia. His only suggestion was that if the US, France, the UK and others were to call on Somalia to end the fighting and withdraw its forces, it would be useful.

Otherwise, our soundings are mixed.2

—Iran’s Khalatbary thought Security Council action would be a “good thing”;

—Nigeria’s Garba thought an SC resolution would be “quite helpful” if designed to prevent big power interference;

—Egypt’s Fahmy favored UN action (though Ambassador Eilts feels we should consult Sadat directly before proceeding);3

—Tanzania’s Mkapa was non-committal, doubting that anything useful could be done in the UN because of opposition from both the Ethiopians and the Somalis;

—Kenya’s Waiyaki has not yet been sounded out, but lower level Kenyan officials were cool to the idea, apparently fearing that it might lead to Somalia enjoying at least some of the fruits of aggression;4

—The Ethiopian Foreign Minister was quite firm in telling me that he felt the UN to be an “inappropriate” forum for discussing the Ogaden situation, an African problem which should have an African solution via the OAU.5

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We are still waiting for: British soundings of the Saudis and Mozambicans, plus a more definitive reading of the Kenya viewpoint (Owen sees Waiyaki October 14); a German report of the views of Sudan, Zaire and Zambia; and French soundings in Gabon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon.

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

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 13, State Department Evening Reports, 10/77. Secret. The President initialed in the upper right corner and wrote, “Cy.”
  2. In telegram Secto 10060 to Cairo, Tehran, Dar es Salaam, and Jidda, October 7, the Secretary’s delegation reported on consultations at the U.N. in New York with key European allies and instructed the posts to explore with the respective Foreign Ministers the idea of a U.N. or OAU peace initiative for the Ogaden. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840072–2606)
  3. In telegram 16750 from Cairo, October 8, the Embassy reported on Fahmy’s and the Egyptian Government’s position. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N770006–0271)
  4. In telegram 3664 from USUN, October 10, the Mission reported on the Kenyan position. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850067–1527)
  5. Carter wrote “W_t [Why not] call for peace, Somalia withdrawal, and OAU mediation?” in the left margin next to these points.