221. Note From the Department of State to the Soviet Leadership1

We have viewed with astonishment the precipitate action of the U.S.S.R. in extending on November 11 immediate diplomatic recognition to only one of the three political factions and to one purporting to be the legal government of the Republic of Angola,2 when in fact that group represented a minority of the population and controlled less than one-third of Angolan territory on that date. Moreover, the Soviet Union must be conscious of the fact that it has extended its recognition in the face of an appeal from the Organization of African Unity for all countries to refrain from extending diplomatic recognition to any of the three liberation movements while the Organization undertakes efforts to obtain a negotiated solution to the Angolan problem.

Together with the rest of the world the United States is fully aware of the large quantity of sophisticated arms, military equipment and personnel which the Soviet Union has caused to be sent by air and by sea to enable the aforementioned minority faction to perpetuate a tragic and bloody civil war in a country that has already suffered much. In our opinion the conduct of the Soviet Union in this matter has now surpassed all bounds of restraint, and has additionally placed it in serious conflict with the great majority of the members of the Organization of African Unity. It is not in the spirit of our mutual efforts to reduce tensions in the world; it is not consistent with the Declaration of Principles we both signed and if continued can set back the progress of détente.

We urge the Soviet Union to give serious consideration to a re-examination of its present policy in Angola. We propose that the So[Page 861]viet Union discontinue the efforts it is now making to escalate the fighting in Angola, to give public support to the efforts of the O.A.U. to promote a ceasefire and the subsequent initiation of peaceful negotiations among the three Angolan movements and to issue an appeal to all nations to cease their intervention in Angola’s internal affairs.

The United States for its part pursues no unilateral interests in Angola and is exclusively concerned with seeing the people of that country live in peace, independence and well-being. We oppose any action that would make Angola an arena for competition between external powers. Our policies and actions are designed to assure achievement of these objectives and we are prepared to cooperate in any effort that insulates Angola from major power conflict.

We are willing to play any helpful diplomatic role that promises to lead to a cease-fire and to peaceful negotiations toward a solution in Angola which will be acceptable to the three political movements.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 4, Angola. No classification marking. Drafted by Mulcahy and Sonnenfeldt. Sonnenfeldt forwarded a draft in a November 19 memorandum to Kissinger, who approved it with minor revisions. Kissinger also approved the following option: “That this not be sent as a formal note, but as an informal message in your channel (in which case I will have it retyped accordingly and returned to you for dispatch.” Sonnenfeldt returned the revised text to the Secretary on November 20. According to marginalia, the note was hand-delivered to the Soviet Embassy at 8 a.m. on November 22.
  2. On November 11, Agostinho Neto and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) declared the independence of the People’s Republic of Angola from Portugal (and from other factions in the Angolan civil war); the Soviet Union, Cuba, Brazil, Mozambique, Congo, and Guinea quickly recognized the new government. Documentation is in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXVIII, Southern Africa.