231. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Schaufele) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Soviet Note on Angola of 18 December

The Soviet informal note of December 18 is a reply to the talk that Ambassador Dobrynin had with the President and you December 9.2

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I have compared this note with the previous similar note of November 28 and find very little difference. The Soviets, although they profess that they would welcome “actions aimed at consolidating in Angola all the forces striving for real independence”, then proceed by implication to identify the FNLA and UNITA as separatist groups which cannot be equated with “the lawful government”.

As an extension of the Soviet concept of just wars of liberation the note states that a cessation of hostilities in Angola would be unjustified and unjust since it equates the “interventionists” and the MPLA forces. Although the Soviets state that there should be an end to foreign military intervention they obviously do not include themselves in that category. The note repeats their readiness to make an appropriate official statement if the U.S. would also do so and, in addition, take practical actions leading to the end of foreign military intervention. The Soviet Union does not mention that it would take similar actions.

The only relatively new element is the Soviet contention that it has no interest in placing the Angolan situation in the context of détente.

My reaction is that the Soviets are not yet prepared to enter into serious negotiations on the Angolan situation but would be concerned if the U.S. determination to resist the Soviet encroachment would have an unfavorable effect on détente.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 4, Angola. Secret. Forwarded through Sonnenfeldt and Sisco. The two Soviet notes of November 28 and December 18 are attached. See Documents 222 and 230.
  2. See Document 224.