155. Telegram From the Embassy in Kenya to the Department of State1

13070. H pass Congressman Diggs. Subject: US Delegation to Kenyatta Funeral Received by President Moi.2

1. Summary: Personal rep of President Carter, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and senior members USDel, received by President Moi and ranking members GOK afternoon September 1. Moi stressed long and close ties to US and promised to continue Kenyatta’s domestic and foreign policies. After ordering press to depart, Moi spoke of Kenya’s desire to live in peace with neighbors, mentioned continuing, camouflaged Somali military activities in Ogaden and requested us to put pressure on Siad Barre to respect Kenya’s boundaries. Assistant Secretary Moose briefed Moi on our dialogue with Siad, assuring we are proceeding slowly but deliberately and have Kenyan interests in mind.3 Moose then stated our desire to improve relations with Ethiopia and asked GOK to get this message to Mengistu given closeness of Kenya-Ethiopian ties. Moi agreed, saying he had already mentioned this to Ethiopian delegation day before as sequel to discussions he had had in Washington during visit this past winter.4 Near end, Moi thanked [Page 409] US for economic development assistance and said he would see Ambassador to discuss aid program in coming days.5 After appeal for military assistance “in case of trouble here” by MinState Koinange, Assistant Secretary Moose reiterated necessity for speedy request for $12 million FMS credit now available. Meeting was extremely cordial and provided excellent means for first substantive discussion with President Moi and close associates. Particularly useful was Justice Marshall’s praise for Kenya’s Constitution and democratic institutions and expression of US wish to see these continue. End summary.

2. President Moi received USDel to Kenyatta funeral at 4:30 p.m. September 1 in Harambee House (Office of President) in response to request for such meeting. Delegation headed by Justice Marshall who was accompanied by Ambassador Young, Ambassador Le Melle, Congressman Diggs and Assistant Secretary Moose (several members of delegation, including Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Carter, were on trip to Masai Mara game reserve). President Moi was flanked by MinState Koinange, Attorney General Njonjo (Marshall had specifically requested to see these two earlier in day), MinFinance Kibaki, FonMin Waiyaki and MinCooperative Development Paul Ngei (long-time associate President Kenyatta and leading Kamba politician), and Geoffrey Kariithi, head of the civil service.

3. Moi stressed long and close friendship with US predating independence (Justice Marshall was evidence of this having helped Kenyan delegation to Lancaster House conference in 1961) and his commitment to continue Kenyatta’s domestic and foreign policies. Moi stressed his respect for Kenyan Constitution, an independent judiciary and his firm commitment to uphold individual freedoms of Kenyans. Justice Marshall picked up on this theme, saying Kenya and late President Kenyatta merited particular respect for constitutional democracy as Kenya “had not bent its constitution” as had so many other governments. Marshall added that democracy was cumbersome, but best system he knew despite its many shortcomings, commenting it was better to plod ahead with reason than “to kill someone and then be sorry.”

4. President Moi requested press to leave room, after which he explained Kenya’s desire to live in peace with neighbors and have border respected. President claimed there were some 10,000 Somali military in civilian clothes fighting in Ogaden and requested our assistance in putting pressure on Siad to desist and respect the territorial [Page 410] integrity of all its neighbors. He said the situation in Djibouti seemed all right at present, as French presence there has deterred Siad from any aggressive action. He added that Mengistu was very much afraid of Arab support for Somalia. At this point, Assistant Secretary Moose informed Moi that our dialogue with Siad was premised on condition that Somalia live in peace with her neighbors and that we will continue to push this objective and keep Kenyan interests in mind as we proceed. Ambassador Young added that it was preferable that we have some relationship with Siad so that he has an alternative to the Soviets. Moi responded that Kenya has no problem with a US-Somali relationship, as GOK sees us as moderating influence on Siad.

5. At this juncture, Assistant Secretary Moose spoke of our desire to better relations with Ethiopia which he characterized as currently marked by suspicion and misunderstanding. He said that while we certainly do not agree with everything the Mengistu regime is doing and are particularly distressed over the human rights situation in Ethiopia, we recognize the need for basic reforms and are willing to approach our relationship with Ethiopia with an open mind. Moose then explained particular problem with US law on expropriation without compensation issue and lack of understanding of USG contraints by PMAC re this issue. Moi responded that he had already mentioned US desire for improvement of relations “to Ethiopian number two” (Capt. Fikre-Selassie Wodgeress, who headed Ethiopian delegation to Kenyatta funeral), on previous day as follow-up to talks he had had in Washington during visit this past winter, although he did not elaborate on precisely what he told Ethiopian delegation. FonMin Waiyaki then proposed we make pitch to Ethiopian Foreign Minister, whom he said was “reasonable man,” at upcoming UNGA.

6. Moi then thanked USG for economic assistance, adding he expected to see Ambassador in coming days on this issue. At this point MinState Koinange said it was most important to get message to US so that Kenya would be able to cope “with problems here.” While Koinange did not mention military assistance as such, it was assumed this is what he had in mind. Justice Marshall replied that the USG would do all it could to help Kenya, implying USG did not have a free hand given congressional role which Congressman Diggs had earlier described in some detail. As meeting broke up, Assistant Secretary Moose emphasized need for GOK to act quickly lest $12 million in FMS credit now available be lost as USG nears end its fiscal year.

7. Comment: Meeting, originally set for 20 minutes but stretched to 35 minutes, was marked by extreme warmth, mainly due to Justice Marshall’s long association with Kenya and its leaders. Moi seemed genuinely thankful for presence of USDel, particularly President Carter’s son. I believe meeting was extremely useful opportunity to make [Page 411] known importance we attach to continuation of constitutionality in Kenya. Point could not have been made by better person than Justice Marshall who had important role in drafting Kenyan Constitution.

8. While discussion of Horn did not break new ground, it was useful exchange in as much as it re-emphasized our mutual interest in influencing other interested parties (Somalis and Arabs by US; Ethiopians by Kenyans) toward moderation and fact that stability in Horn is in everybody’s interest. I believe it would be useful to follow-up Kenya’s Ethiopian link with FonMin Waiyaki at upcoming UNGA.

9. In any future meeting re our economic development assistance to Kenya, I would expect to give assurances of continued US support within budgetary limitations. I shall follow up quickly on $12 million FMS credit as MOD has already indicated to Embassy it wishes to accept this credit. Naturally, Kenyatta’s death and funeral have delayed all government business.

10. I might add here that Kenyatta funeral was an enormous feat which GOK carried out with impressive organizational skill and dignity (to be reported in septel). Entire USDel made a splendid showing and I appreciate efforts of all those who had hand in assembling it and arranging for its getting out here.

11. This tel not cleared with delegation which departed shortly after meeting.

Le Melle
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780359–0670. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to Addis Ababa, Mogadiscio, Djibouti, London for Seitz, USCINCNAVEUR, USCINCEUR for POLAD, and COMIDEASTFOR.
  2. President Jomo Kenyatta died on Tuesday, August 22. Telegram 213296 to Nairobi, August 22, transmitted a message from Carter to Moi sending condolences on behalf of the Government and people of the United States. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780343–0949)
  3. See Document 76 in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XVII, Part 1, Horn of Africa.
  4. See Document 149.
  5. In telegram 13393 from Nairobi, September 8, the Embassy reported on Ambassador Le Melle’s meeting with Foreign Minister Waiyaki to discuss bilateral issues following Moi’s assumption of the Presidency. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780368–0680)