42. Message From President Carter to Ethiopian Chairman Mengistu1



I am surprised at the misunderstanding by your government of my recent remarks about the conflict in the Horn of Africa.2 The United States has never wavered from its long-standing position of support for the territorial integrity of all African countries and condemnation of use of force as a means of settling differences between nations. This has always been and continues to be the basis of our policy toward Ethiopia. We neither encouraged nor approved of the Somalis’ incursion into the Ogaden, and we have told the Somalis that they can expect no military support from the United States as long as they are in Ethiopian territory.3 We would like to see all Somali presence in Ethiopian territory withdrawn. We would also like to see a cease-fire in Eritrea so that a peaceful accommodation could be worked out in that region. We would like to see peace in your country so that you can proceed with the economic and political development of your country.

It troubles me that there is misunderstanding between your government and mine. I would like to send a senior emissary to talk to you, or meet with your representative, privately, in confidence, and at greater length to see if we cannot find ways of helping you deal with the present difficulties. If you believe this would be beneficial, please let me know when you would be prepared to receive my representative or send one to me.

Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Box 2, Ethiopia/Horn of Africa. No classification marking.
  2. Carter’s answer to a question on the Soviet involvement in the Horn of Africa at a press conference on January 12 failed to condemn the Somali invasion of Ethiopia. Instead, he had focused on the Soviet role in arming both Somalia and Ethiopia. See Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book I, pp. 56–57.
  3. See Document 32.