RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES
1964-1968, Volume XXIV
Department of State
346. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of
State (Katzenbach) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, March 12, 1968.
/1/Source: Johnson Library,
National Security File, Country File, Somalia Republic, Visit of
Prime Minister Egal, 3/14-15/68. Confidential. A handwritten
notation in the margin reads: "Orig. was attachment to WWR memo
3/13." Rostow's memorandum is Document 347. Attached talking
points are not printed.
Your Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali
Republic, March 14, 1968; 12:00 noon
Prime Minister Egal
Egal, 39, took office last summer. He speaks
English fluently and, though a Muslim, enjoys a drink. He is a
pragmatic African moderate and is pro-West. He has few interests
Egal has completely reversed Somalia's policies in
the last nine months. Somali irredentism dominated past Government
policies. Egal seeks peace and cooperation with neighboring Kenya
and Ethiopia. He is pushing for greater economic development at the
Somalia is a semi-arid land--much like our
South-West. Poor in resources, it has gone in primarily for raising
livestock. However, uranium and itrium have just been found near
Mogadiscio. If there are large reserves of these metals, as an
American company now claims, they could have an enormous effect on
Somalia is one of the few democracies in Africa.
Governments and presidents have changed normally since independence
in 1960. The country's tragedy is that European-drawn frontiers have
divided the Somali people. Its population is two and a half million;
an additional one million live outside the borders, in eastern
Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya. Somali irredentism has accordingly
plagued the stability of the Horn of Africa.
Somalia has a non-aligned foreign policy. Because
of U.S. military aid to Ethiopia, it has leaned in the past somewhat
to the USSR, which has supplied large amounts of military and
What Egal Wants
U.S. help with Ethiopia and Kenya in getting them
to be more responsive to his efforts to improve relations with them.
More U.S. economic assistance in general and
designation of Somalia as an AID emphasis country in particular.
(Both of these he feels are needed in order to
prove the soundness of his new policies to the Somali electorate.)
What We Want
To strengthen his position and encourage his
policies. (His efforts toward regional peace and economic
development, at the expense of the military, exceed our most
optimistic expectations, and have won more support within Somalia
than appeared possible. We should do all we can to assist this most
To demonstrate our interest in one of the few
Assistant Secretary Palmer will accompany the
Prime Minister on his call on you, and Ambassador Thurston will be
available at the White House during the meeting.
Nicholas deB. Katzenbach
347. Memorandum From the President's Special
Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson/1/
Washington, March 13, 1968, 6 p.m.
/1/Source: Johnson Library,
National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt W. Rostow, Vol.
66. No classification marking. Drafted by Edward Hamilton and Roger
Your Meeting with Prime Minister Egal (A-Gal) of Somalia
Thursday, March 14--12 Noon
11:30 AM: Arrival at diplomatic entrance (arrival
statements and full military honors)
12:00 Noon: Alone (Egal is fluent in English)
advisors standing by in Cabinet Room
8:00 PM: White House Dinner
At Tab A is Katzenbach's briefing memo./2/
At Tab B are State's Talking Points./3/
/3/Not printed; briefing material
for Egal's visit is in the Johnson Library, National Security File,
Country File, Somali Republic, Visit of Prime Minister Egal,
3/14-15/68 and Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 SOMALI.
At Tab C is biographic information on Egal./4/
Somalia is a poor dry country on the upper east
coast of Africa between Kenya and Ethiopia--the "Horn"
that juts out into the Indian Ocean just below the mouth of the Red
Sea. It became independent in 1960. It is, despite its economic
backwardness, a model democracy by African standards.
The major factor complicating U.S.-Somalia
relations is the very serious tension and arms race between Somalia
and Ethiopia, as well as a milder form of the same problem with
Kenya. We are prime arms suppliers to Ethiopia. The Russians supply
Somalia. Until Egal's election last July, both sides rattled sabers
with abandon. The basic problem is tribal irredentism; more than one
million Somali tribesmen live in Ethiopia and Kenya. Somalia's
traditional policy has aimed at annexing all areas populated by
ethnic Somalis--by force if necessary.
How Egal handles the border problem will make or
break his political future. He has put his chips on a turnaround
from belligerence to detente with Ethiopia and Kenya. Over the past
few months, with our quiet applause, Egal has begun peace talks with
Haile Selassie and Jomo Kenyatta, pulled back the Somali guerrillas
raiding the border areas, and cut his military spending. With each
of these steps he is walking on eggs in his Parliament. Everybody in
Somalia has some clan relative living on the other side of the
border. If the detente doesn't blossom, or if Egal stumbles, the
dispute will slip back into the old bitterness--probably all the
worse for the failure of this effort.
1. Border Problem--You might open by
telling Egal how much we admire his courageous efforts to reduce
tension with his neighbors, and ask for his views on the prospects
for the detente.
He will probably give you a lengthy rundown
on what he has done and how hard it has been to carry along his own
people. He may ask us to work on the Ethiopians and Kenyans. And
there is likely to be a strong hint that we make things tougher for
him by continuing to supply arms to the Emperor.
You might reply that:
--We understand his problems. Vice President
Humphrey put in a good word for Egal's policy when he saw the
Emperor and Kenyatta in January.
--We will continue to give discreet encouragement
to all sides.
--But only the parties themselves can solve this
dispute. Our influence as an outsider is very limited, and a push by
us might even be counter-productive.
--We don't think the Emperor has aggressive
designs on anybody. We'd hope that the detente will eventually lead
to an agreement to limit arms in the area. In the meantime, we are
very pleased with the cuts in military spending that Egal has made.
2. Aid--Egal is concerned about our aid
cut-back in Africa. Somalia is not one of our concentration
countries. Bilateral U.S. aid is scheduled to phase out over the
next four years in favor of multilateral and regional projects. This
will not affect food or the Peace Corps.
Egal may make a strong pitch that he needs
aid more than ever to hold the line against his hawks by presenting
a credible development alternative.
You might say:
--We are not withdrawing from Africa in
general or Somalia in particular. Congress willing, we hope to put
more--not less--aid into Africa in the future than in the past.
--We have put more than $70 million in Somalia
since 1960, almost $20 million last year alone.
--We hope Somalia will join with her neighbors to
put together regional projects which will be eligible under our new
policy. We know this is tough. But we think it is terribly
--In any event, the new policy will not affect
food aid, the Ex-Im Bank, the Peace Corps, or projects done jointly
with other donors.
--We are delighted to inform the Prime Minister
that we are now ready to sign a $1.1 million PL-480 agreement. This
is evidence of our concern.
3. Vietnam (Egal has been silent.)
/5/Printed from a copy that bears
this typed signature.
348. Memorandum of Conversation/1/
Washington, March 14, 1968, noon.
/1/Source: Johnson Library,
National Security File, Country File, Somalia, Vol. 1, 1/64-5/68.
Confidential. Drafted by Looram. The conversation was held at the
Summary of discussions between the President and Prime Minister Egal
of the Republic of Somalia
Republic of Somalia
H.E. Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, Prime Minister of the Republic of
Somalia (Continued on Page 2)
(This conversation followed a private talk between
the President and Prime Minister Egal.)
The President said that the Prime Minister and he
had discussed a number of things together, including developments in
the Horn of Africa. He had expressed to the Prime Minister his
pleasure at the reception given the Vice President in Mogadiscio and
his pleasure that the Prime Minister had been able to come over to
visit this country. He had also asked the Prime Minister to extend
his warm regards to the President of Somalia. They had discussed,
the President stated, the questions of AID and the Peace Corps. He
had told the Prime Minister of his problems with the Congress with
regard to AID and the continuation of bilateral assistance. He had
noted, however, that, if funds were available, the United States
Government was interested in assisting regional projects. Moreover,
we were prepared to conclude a PL-480 agreement with the Somali
The President went on to say that the USG was
discreetly supporting efforts to achieve a detente in the Horn of
Africa, although this was best handled by the parties directly
concerned. We were most interested in the Prime Minister's
constructive work. We appreciated that some difficulties remained,
and we were following these developments closely.
Prime Minister Egal stated that he had wanted to
give an overall picture to the President and not bother him with
details. He planned to take up more detailed matters with the
Secretary and Mr. Palmer.
United States Participants:
The Honorable Raymond L. Thurston, American
Ambassador to the Somali Republic
The Honorable Joseph Palmer 2nd, Assistant Secretary of State for
The Honorable James W. Symington, Chief of Protocol of the U.S.
Mr. Edward Hamilton, White House Staff
Mr. Matthew Looram, Country Director, Northeastern African Affairs
H.E. Haji Farah Ali Omar, Minister for Foreign
H.E. Ali Omar Shego, Minister of Agriculture
The Honorable Haji Mussa Samantar, Undersecretary of Public Works
H.E. Yusuf O. Azhari, Ambassador of the Somali Republic
H.E. Abdulrahim Abby Farah, Permanent Representative of the Somali
Republic to the United Nations
Mr. Abdurahman Abby Farah, Chief of Cabinet
Colonel Abdillahi Farah Ali, Aide-de-Camp to the Prime Minister
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, Director, Planning Department, Ministry
of Planning and Coordination
Mr. Omar Mohallim Mohamed, President, Omar Mohallim and Company
Mr. Ali Sheikh Mohamed, President, Ali Sheikh and Company