355. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Republic of the Congo0

579. Eyes Only for the Ambassador. Personal for Ambs Gullion and Elbrick. Dept increasingly concerned by number of reports from intelligence sources indicating that Holden Roberto leader UPA is at the end of his rope and seriously in danger of losing control of Angolan Nationalist Movement to more radical elements who are unfriendly to West. CIA reports that the MPIA organization is moving into Leopoldville and that [Page 552] they are being supported by Gizenga elements, with intention of throwing out Roberto. Dept considers Roberto genuine non-Communist nationalist and believes his continued control of Angolan nationalist movement in our best interests.

Roberto who believes Adoula friendly to him has sought assistance from Adoula and Mobutu but no aid has been forthcoming. Roberto feels that unless he can show results soon, he may be overthrown. Dept hopes Roberto’s position can be strengthened in case some accommodation should be reached between UPA and MPLA.

Therefore suggest Embassy make discreet approach to Adoula indicating reports we have had of MPLA moving into Leopoldville and attempting to bring arms into Leopoldville from Stanleyville. We believe that MPLA takeover of Angolan nationalist movement would not be in Adoula’s interest. Dept considers it would be helpful to Roberto and Adoula if latter informed US regards Roberto as the leader of the genuine Angolan Nationalist Movement.

Unless you perceive objection Dept requests approach be made on above lines, pointing out to Adoula need for extreme secrecy in order to avoid word of our approach getting back to Portuguese authorities. Pre-sumably Adoula may wish to inform Mobutu of our approach.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 753N.00/10-561. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Wight on October 2; cleared by Vance, Wellborn, Brown, Brubeck, and Ferguson; and approved by Johnson. Repeated to Lisbon.
  2. On October 10, Ambassador Gullion discussed Holden Roberto with Adoula, emphasizing the obvious delicacy of the matter, since Portugal was an old and valued U.S. ally, but noting the United States considered Roberto a more bona fide nationalist than his Communist opposition. (Telegram 965 from Leopoldville, October 12; ibid., 753N.00/10-1261) On the same day, Ambassador Elbrick warned the Department of State that expressing U.S. support for Roberto would be a delicate and highly dangerous matter. He noted that if the Portuguese found out, it would confirm their suspicions that the United States was planning (or at best acquiescing in) the destruction of the Portuguese regime at home as well as in its overseas territories in order to curry favor with the Africans. (Telegram 454 from Lisbon; ibid., 753N.00/10-1061)