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frankly say that we have ground to believe that we were misled. We were convinced that we were talking the same language when in fact this was not so. We have been talking on two different wavelengths.
It is not my impression that the nationalists in Geneva are being unrealistic. In fact their proposals are very reasonable. They have asked for a unicameral arrangement supported by a British presence which together would give confidence to all the races and build a foundation in the transitional government upon which people of all races in Rhodesia would work together to build peace on the basis of equality. We are now being told that the nationalists' attitude does not provide guarantees. But there are guaranteed seats for whites in the transitional government. The reality of the Rhodesian situation itself including the judiciary, civil service, economy and other strategic areas in the Zimbabwe society will ensure that the white community will continue to have a meaningful voice and protection not only in the transitional period but in the period afterwards.
We are being told that ZIPA should reconsider its position. Frankly we believe that the proposals being put forward by the nationalists are realistic. What surprises me is that when you do not like anything it is being labelled unrealistic. Anything else that the nationalists offer is unrealistic and ambiguous. When you assert that you want a moderate and responsible government in Zimbabwe and one which would not pose a threat to Zambia, I must say that we do not need any guidance about what our interests are or what is best for us. Who are we to choose a government that will govern Zimbabwe? This is the sacred right of the six million people of that country.
In all frankness, I am not yet convinced that we are now being led to believe that your present attitude is reminiscent of the past posture of successive American administrations on the problems of this area. We had warned about this, a warning which you, yourself acknowledged. But we are now definitely worried that again and in spite of all that has been done already the United States may end up backing the wrong horse.
If the programme that we believe would guarantee peace and security for all is now being labelled unrealistic then we are quite happy to go along the path which we had chosen before and that is the path of armed struggle. We are not unaware of the risks that are involved in the struggle. But we in Zambia have known no peace and our life has been dedicated to serving that which we consider to be right and just.
We operate on principles as you know, Mr. Secretary, but I must tell you that Zambia will go down fighting on the side of right. We would like to die as noble men and women. This is why I said earlier that threats do not impress us. We seek a solution that ends the war not
a half-measures. The global problems in the context of southern Africa demand that a solution that meets the legitimate interests of the oppressed people be found and found quickly. That is the solution that would end the present conflict. If now the United States Government do not appear to share our conviction in this problem they will end by fighting on the wrong side. This will not be in the interests of the United States and of world peace.
Let us therefore not deal with the past, there is a problem to be resolved at the moment. We need a formula that does not insure the place of the white community in the transitional government but that which provides protection and safety for them for all time in an independent Zimbabwe. The British Government has now indicated their preparedness to establish a presence in the interim government. They will need all the support.
232. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of
Geneva, December 9, 1976, 2255Z.
9825. For Amb Schaufele from Wisner. Subj: Status of Rhodesia Conference: Recommended Briefing Memorandum for the Secretary's Meetings in London.
I. Rhodesian State of Mind.
A. Smith's attitude has improved somewhat since his arrival yesterday and it now looks as if he will not pull out of the conference before the Secretary's meetings in London this weekend. The Secretary's instructions for my initial meeting with Smith and subsequent mes
Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 14, Switzerland-State Department Telegrams, To SecState Nodis (26). Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
sage? seem to have had the desired effect, and for the moment, no further action is necessary.
B. Smith's sense of having been betrayed both by us and especially the British is real. He is convinced that the bargain has not been adhered to. He claims he expected the nationalists would be held to a discussion of the five points, and he is not prepared at present to see the negotiations continue on any other basis. Given his perception of the British performance to date, he will not be easily moved toward acceptance of an expanded British role in the interim government as a substitute for power being retained in white Rhodesian hands.
C. Nevertheless, he has at least indicated a willingness to consider alternative proposals and has signalled that he will not for the time being strike out on his own or seek a settlement outside the Geneva framework. He is probing for African support of a non-Geneva settlement but cannot realistically hold out real hope in this respect. He will be looking to the results of the Secretary's meetings in London and, following this, a clear signal from us on what the next steps should be.
II. Reactions to Letters to the Front Line Presidents.
A. The word is now out in Geneva about the Secretary's letters to the front line presidents. Their effect, as communicated by the observers here, has been both shocking and sobering. The British here share our view that such an approach was needed to halt the slide into unreality, which had been reflected here in growing insistence on the part of both the nationalists and the observers on instant majority rule. As a result, both the nationalists and the observers are more aware that we cannot, and will not, attempt to press their extreme demands upon Smith or the South Africans, and there may be better recognition that a settlement must be based on compromise.
B. The Secretary will be meeting both Mark Chona and Sonny Ramphal in London. His meeting with Chona will provide an opportunity to both soothe ruffled feathers and restate our views of what is required to achieve a Rhodesian settlement. The Secretary should:
-Reiterate his high regard for President Kaunda and the importance we attach to his sensible and constructive role.
-Emphasize that we wish there to be no misunderstandings between us and that none is necessary given the common goal we seek.
2 Telegram 9789 from Geneva, December 9, reported on Wisner's meeting with Smith. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
See Document 228.
4 Kissinger met with Ramphal on December 11, at Claridge's in London, 9:40–10:20 a.m., and with Chona, 5:35–6:50 p.m. Memoranda of conversation are in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 346, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversation, External, November 1976-January 1977.
-Stress our desire to concentrate on the present and future and not the past.
-Reemphasize our firm commitment to independence under majority rule in Zimbabwe.
-Seek Chona's views on what he and Kaunda believe is necessary to break the deadlock.
-Reiterate our conviction that Europeans must have a clearly defined role in the transition and that the concept of power sharing must be respected.
-Discuss with Chona how the British might play a role in the interim government and what would be required to get the front line presidents to agree to support this concept.
C. While we do not know all that Ramphal intends to discuss on behalf of Obasanjo, we know from Nigerian observer Anyaoku that he will be outlining a proposal (which we assume was authored by Anyaoku himself) for a repackaging of Geneva based on expanded UK involvement. If this is the case, we believe that the Nigerians should also be reminded of realities and encouraged to put their weight behind compromise.
III. The British Role.
A. All of the Geneva observers are now convinced that active British participation in the interim government is an essential element to any successful negotiated outcome. While none of them has yet been able to specify what that role should be, all believe that new settlement package based on an expanded British role can be sold to the front line presidents, who can in turn gain nationalist acceptance. The British delegation here indicated that their government is now prepared to consider responsibilities far greater than any it was prepared to assume at the outset. The Geneva delegation, including Richard, indicates it expects decisions to be made this weekend in London for consultations with the front line presidents and Rhodesians and the South Africans.
B. As previously noted, however, Smith remains deeply distrustful of the British, whom he regards as being both weak and indecisive and in league with the Africans, and is therefore extremely skeptical about British involvement in the interim government. Therefore, we will have to give careful thought to how and how much British involvement we might be prepared to press upon Smith in order to achieve a settlement in the coming days.
IV. The Recess Issue.
A. A conference recess is inevitable since there is no way that a settlement can be achieved by December 20. The Rhodesians would like to see an adjournment as soon as possible. Richard's preference is that the conference adjourn as early as December 14, following your meetings
in London. All, including the observers and the nationalists, agree that the way in which the conference adjourns is more important than when. It will be essential to end the conference on the most positive note possible if there is to be any chance of getting the parties back together after the holidays. This may prove to be the only way out of the current impasse. The British in particular must be ready to make a major effort in this regard. The Secretary may wish to press them to develop their ideas on how the recess should be engineered.
B. The Secretary might also press the British to fix a date for reconvening the conference. The shorter the recess the better, otherwise energies will dissipate and momentum will be lost. We believe that the recess should not exceed three to four weeks. We will also need to plan carefully how the interim is to be used. The British have proposed a shuttle of their own to consult in various African capitals. We should hold them to this while giving consideration to how we can complement their efforts.
C. Both the nationalists and the observers have raised objections to reconvening in Geneva. While their objections have not been specific, we imagine that cost is at least one factor. While we suspect that some—not all, including Sithole and Muzorewa-would prefer to meet in an African capital, they can probably be brought to recognize that no African site would be acceptable. Smith also objects to Geneva because he believes it encourages the nationalists temptation to grandstand and escalate their demands. In the final analysis, we believe these objections are of little importance if an acceptable basis for continuing the negotiations can be found, particularly one to which the nationalists and the front line states are to some degree committed.