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120. Telegram From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of
Kinshasa, July 24, 1975, 1335Z.
6877. Subject Vance Mission: Fourth Meeting with Mobutu July 23. Ref: State 172996:2
1. Following receipt reftel, I telephoned Mobutu and arranged to see him again evening July 23. He invited me to stay for dinner with the family, following which we had most useful talk on status of our joint planning for assistance to Angola.
2. I told Mobutu that we had reviewed and forwarded to Washington the list of equipment replacement requirements given us by his generals as well as the categories of equipment they had designated as being most urgently needed. I said I had this morning received instruction reiterating the need to put together a program not to exceed (dollar amount not declassified) although we did not exclude the possibility of some additional assistance now. In explaining this limitation I observed that our ability to help was subject to certain obvious considerations, notably the limitation on funds available, the cost and time required for shipment, and the risk of leaks that arises if large quantities of matériel are sent all at once. I stressed the importance of the last point, noting the need to move in such a way as to avoid exposure, which could seriously harm our efforts to help. Mobutu said he understood these considerations, but that he considered that much less than the equipment from five of his para-battalions (four for Roberto and one for Savimbi) would not rpt not redress the balance. He also reiterated his hope that the items already sent Angola from his mobilization reserve as well as the key items from his paratroops which we cannot supply in the present emergency program would be replaced subsequently.
3. I said it was important that I provide Washington with as precise a view as possible of his order of priorities within the broad priority categories of equipment his generals had given us (on his instruction, it is clear). This so we could determine the most useful types of assistance both for a [dollar amount not declassified) program and for any aid we might be able to provide above that. I then reviewed with Mobutu the list provided by the generals and he indicated how he would refine his relative priorities. His most urgent need remains 5,000 M-16 rifles with
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P840178–1917. Secret; Cherokee; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
2 Document 119.
one-two months' ammunition, all of which he hopes can be air shipped to Zaire as soon as possible. His second priority is anti-tank guns to replace more than has already been shipped south to counter the Soviet-supplied armored vehicles he said were having devastating effect on the FNLA. Mobutu went on to designate a number of other priority requirements from the list and indicated which should be shipped by air and which by sea. We have incorporated his views both in a (dollar amount not declassified) package and in a larger package which have developed as requested reftel (1/2 lines not declassified]
4. In discussing Zairian military aid to Angola, I took the occasion to remind Mobutu about US restrictions on the transfer from one country to another of equipment (I had in mind his paratroopers have some old MAP equipment.) supplied under MAP. Mobutu said he understood this and reiterated his assurance that no US matériel, no matter how old it might be, would be sent to Angola.
5. Mobutu commented on the importance of moving ahead with political action programs, noting that he had already instructed appropriate security and intelligence officials to sit down [less than 1 line not declassified) and start working up plans. In this regard, Mobutu said he had Amin's assurance that, as chairman of the forthcoming OAU summit, he would see to it that the Soviets are appropriately taken to task at the meeting for their intervention in Angola. Mobutu intends also to work behind the scenes there to encourage other such criticism.
6. Mobutu did not have much news from Angola. However, he was concerned by reports that two more Soviet vessels have delivered military equipment to the MPLA. I noted reports I had seen recently reflecting adversely on the conduct of certain FNLA officials and troops in Luanda. Mobutu acknowledged this has been a problem, and said he would admonish Roberto again on this matter.
7. I told Mobutu that I intended to return Washington July 25 and would press for earliest possible decision. Mobutu reiterated need for urgent action. “The Soviets are continuing to send arms into Angola," he said, "while we are sitting here talking."
8. Recommendation: As noted para 3, we are sending separately the composition of two possible packages: one which meets the current (dollar amount not declassified) ceiling, and the other which incorporates Mobutu's most urgent minimum requirements and, according our rough estimates, amounts to [dollar amounts not declassified] I wish to make clear Mobutu would not rpt not regard what we could send under the (dollar amount not declassified) program as enough to redress the balance in Angola. As it is important that we start to move just as soon as possible, I urge that Washington agencies give top priority to final reviewing and costing out of both packages to permit a decision in the next few days on what can be our highest level. I urge that the decision
be in favor of a larger than (dollar amount not declassified] dollar program so that we will have a real impact on Angolan situation.
The Secretary: I noticed that President Kaunda has reacted in a way totally unpredicted by AF. He's delighted but concerned that we'll leak it. That's inconceivable don't you think? (laughter) (less than 1 line not declassified] He's eager and he's designated Chona as the cut-out man.? I think this will be the reaction of the other Africans too. You guys have the Africans pegged all wrong. They act in foreign policy as they act in domestic policy.
Now on Zaire, how can we communicate with Mobutu in a reliable way?
Vance: Well, as you know, I took the Chargé (less than 1 line not declassified) in on the meetings. [less than 1 line not declassified]
The Secretary: We must get an Ambassador out there fast.
Vance: I agree. These goodies will help rub off on him too. [1 line not declassified]
The Secretary: What decisions do we need to make now?
Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 102, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive.
2 As reported in telegram 1372 from Lusaka, July 23. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 8, Zambia)
Vance: We have the figure of roughly [dollar amount not declassified] which I know he would not see as enough-and I would agree with that.
The Secretary: I've never thought it was enough.
Vance: (handing the Secretary a memo) We have this list also. This does not include anti-aircraft and tents.3
The Secretary: Why does he need anti-aircraft?
Vance: The Portuguese have aircraft and they're afraid it may be used against them.
The Secretary: The first thing is, how much do we need?
The Secretary: My view is that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right and the amount we put in will not increase the heat we take.
Ingersoll: Colby says if we go too far, we may have budget problems.
The Secretary: I don't want to hear about Colby. If he doesn't send the arms then that's a point-but it is crazy not to send arms. Who is backstopping this back here? We'd better get Larry in here. (Kissinger makes a phone call to Eagleburger)
Vance: Mobutu's suggestion which I think makes sense is that we get the stuff to him and he then releases his stuff to Angola. Then it goes fast and it's not US stuff.
The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified)
The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified) (Eagleburger enters room) The way to handle this is to send our stuff by ship, not by air. [less than 1 line not declassified)
Davis: (less than 1 line not declassified]
The Secretary: Well, Larry, I want you and Bob to follow this Zaire thing. (less than 1 line not declassified] Mobutu is to send his arms into Angola from his own stock. We can use the CIA stuff to replace his stuff. Most of it we should send by ship (less than 1 line not declassified) Tell Colby I want no more crying. It's decided. Get that equipment in there.
Vance: Mobutu wants new US equipment and not the European stuff.
The Secretary: Well, let's give him US equipment. How do we pay for it?
Ingersoll: That's Colby's problem.
Sisco: He has problems because he has got money all right, but arms are more difficult.
The Secretary: That has been decided. At least let's give Mobutu what he wants. Does he have a chance in this?
Vance: He thinks so. He's moved equipment for up to 5 battalions into Angola over the months and nine armored cars during this last week.
The Secretary: Who is handling Savimbi?
Vance: He says we should take Belgian and French equipment from the five battalions and give four to Roberto and one to Savimbi.
The Secretary: Is there any reason not to do that?
The Secretary: It's all below the (dollar amount not declassified) which the President has approved.
Sisco: Let's do it fast now that it's being done.
The Secretary: I agree, let's do it fast and get an Ambassador in who doesn't get a heart attack when things get rough.
Vance: Do I understand he's approved the (dollar amount not declassified]
The Secretary: Yes, and he's only released (dollar amount not declassified]
Vance: The other thing is, he hopes we'll replace what he's given out of his mobilization reserve.
The Secretary: The major problem is to get it moving fast. Bob will you talk to Clements please?
Ingersoll: I can.
Cutler: That's certainly fast enough. He's willing to take a small gap if he knows our stuff is coming.
The Secretary: Get him a message saying we've approved it and we're working out the details next week. What are you working on now anyway?
(Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Angola.]