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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 29, 1977

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION WITH ETHIOPIAN FOREIGN SECRETARY DAWIT WOLDE GIORGIS, 17 SEPTEMBER 1977

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    The memorandum concerns an Operation named Torch, which the United States was supposedly planning in order to destabilize the Ethiopian regime. It involved the arming of internal opposition groups with US weapons.
    "Memorandum of Conversation with Ethiopian Foreign Secretary Dawit Wolde Giorgis, 17 September 1977," September 29, 1977, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, f. 5, op. 73, d. 1636, ll. 129-134; translated by Bruce McDonald. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110959
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TOP SECRET, Copy No. 2
From diary of 29 September 1977
A. P. Ratanov Ser. No. 352

Memorandum of Conversation with
Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry DAWIT WOLDE GIORGIS

17 September 1977

We received a visit from Dawit at his request. Pursuant to instructions from the Chairman of the PMAC [Mengistu], he furnished a document concerning an imperialist conspiracy against Ethiopia designated by the code name "Fakel" [Torch], which was brought to the attention of the ambassadors of the Socialist Bloc Countries at a meeting with Haile Mariam Mengistu that took place on 10 September 1977. This document consists of a summary presentation of instructions and telegrams, sent during the period of 12 February through 4 June of this year by the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi (under the signature of D. Wardner, and later E. Kelly), to the American Embassies in Khartoum and Dar-es-Salam.

According to the document, the aim of perpetrating "intervention and destabilization of circumstances in Ethiopia" is to be carried out by three groups: (1) Nuba (2) Anyanya, to be carried out in the southwestern region of Ethiopia (in the territory of the Sudan); and the third group consisting of "hostile elements in southeastern Ethiopia" (in Kenyan territory). The training and arming of these groups, primarily with American weapons, is to be carried out by 16 September of this year. Commencement of operation "Fakel" is planned for 1 October 1977.

The starting point for all operations is to be the assassination, on 1 October of this year, of the Chairman of the PMAC, as well as that of his Deputy, to be followed by an attack by Groups 1 and 2 from Sudanese territory. Two weeks thereafter, an attack by the third group from Kenyan territory is planned. The establishment of a third front of military operations, as contemplated by the instigators of the plan, will lead to an "automatic attack by Ethiopia on Sudan." In the event of a retaliatory attack on Kenya, it is contemplated that the marines (the document does not specify of what nationality) and forces of "other moderate countries" will be used.

Attachment: see four-page list appended hereto.

AMBASSADOR OF THE USSR
TO SOCIALIST ETHIOPIA
/s/ A. RATANOV

cc: 3 AFO
Defense Ministry, CC CPSU
UOMP
UPVM
9/26/77