112. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary Kissinger
  • Deputy Secretary Ingersoll
  • Ambassador Vance
  • Acting Assistant Secretary Mulcahy
  • Walt Cutler, Country Director for Zaire
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • Africa

Vance: I was looking over my reporting cables2 and I’m not sure I made this point clear, but I left our friend Mobutu with a very clear indication of the direction we are leaning.

The Secretary: Well, I must say that didn’t come through in the cables.

Vance: The last thing that he said to me was that he hoped I would return soon with a message that we would do something on Angola.

The Secretary: Well, what should we do?

Vance: I think we should give substantially more money to Holden and Savimbi.

The Secretary: Did he agree?

[Page 262]

Vance: It was his idea.

The Secretary: What do we mean by substantial?

Vance: Several millions I think and arms also given through him.

The Secretary: Would he handle it?

Vance: Yes.

The Secretary: Would we send officers?

Vance: No. I saw Holden too. Mobutu says Holden’s superiority has disappeared due to the heavy Soviet arms shipments.

The Secretary: How quickly will we have to move?

Vance: Very quickly I think. The strategy is if nothing is done by November 11 . . .

The Secretary: But do we have two weeks?

Vance: I think so. The stuff should get into the hands of Holden and Savimbi in the next month or two.

The Secretary: How fast can CIA move?

Mulcahy: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Cutler: I think November 11 may not be that critical either.

The Secretary: My problem is I’ll be away for a week and I don’t want it done while I’m away. We’ll turn it into a religious movement if that happens.

Mulcahy: I can tip off the CIA to get ready.

The Secretary: If we do it, we should not do it half-heartedly. Can we win?

Vance: They think it can be done.

The Secretary: What’s your view?

Vance: It would take a lot of direct advice. I gathered that our minimum requirement is to avoid having Neto take over.

The Secretary: My disposition is, if we do it at all, we should try to win. Can the Soviets escalate?

Vance: Not as fast as we can. We have a continuous territority through which we can supply and they don’t.

The Secretary: Should we try to involve Kaunda?

Vance: I don’t know enough about Kaunda and Mobutu’s relations. Kaunda and Nyerere are supporting Savimbi.

Mulcahy: They urged us to support Savimbi. I think we should let them know we’re helping—but not in detail.

The Secretary: My impression is that Kaunda was for it.

Mulcahy: He’s now stopped arms going through Zambia in an effort to deflate the situation.

Vance: Mobutu said that any idea of the three of them getting together is total nonsense. Neto will succeed if the others are not helped.

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The Secretary: Will Mobutu get off our back if we help?

Vance: Well the air went out of him each time I saw him.

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Vance: [5 lines not declassified]

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Vance: [1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: [1½ lines not declassified]

Vance: [1½ lines not declassified]

The Secretary: Will Mobutu send his Ambassador back to us?

Vance: I don’t know. He hopes we’ll send a new one back out soon. I must say he never treated me in a more friendly manner. When I arrived he was convinced that we were involved in the coup and yet by the time I left he was pretty much off it.

The Secretary: How was he in general?

Vance: He’s as rational as ever and, as a matter of fact, even less imperious.

The Secretary: How is his style of life? I imagine he’s suffering no pain.

Vance: No, he’s in no pain but he is slightly less imperial.

The Secretary: What decision do we have to make now?

Vance: We have to help them via the IMF to get over his short-term cash flow problem. Our people think this is reasonable. Second, we need to increase the cash to the two Angola groups and put together a plan to propose to Mobutu of arms. It’s not a huge amount of arms.

The Secretary: How are we going to get it done?

Mulcahy: When we discussed the implementation of Option 33 before, we found the CIA already has on pallets in warehouses a lot of arms and can get them moving in a matter of hours.

The Secretary: What’s the procedure for starting it?

Vance: One, we need the decision. Two, who can run it? I think it would be disastrous to have it run by the military. It should be the Agency. Then we need to get the right guy—somebody like Devlin. Conceivably we can take him back.

The Secretary: Would he do it?

Mulcahy: I think so.

Vance: I don’t know. He’s making $100,000 a year.

The Secretary: That’s more than me! But anyway, someone like him.

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Vance: I think he might be talked into it.

Mulcahy: He’s been very helpful on the kidnapping.4

The Secretary: How are we doing on that, by the way?

Mulcahy: We talked to Carter 5 who thought it would take place today.

(Secretary is interrupted for a phone call)

The Secretary: Colby doesn’t want to ship arms but he’ll be talked to. I tell you this is a heroic phase in US foreign policy. He just wants to give money because it will give him less trouble with the Hill.

Cutler: Of course they can purchase arms in Europe, fast, anywhere.

Mulcahy: And we could ship European weapons. They have warehouses in Europe.

The Secretary: Well, it’s nonsense. You’re not going to be fooling anyone. He thinks [less than 1 line not declassified] could handle it. Can he do it?

Cutler: With help from headquarters he could.

Vance: He’s a good man but he’s not a Devlin [1 line not declassified]

Ingersoll: Devlin still has Mobutu’s confidence doesn’t he?

The Secretary: Why not try to get him back?

All right, next week I want you to work with the Agency and defer the decision until I come back. You should plan to go back to the Congo with an integrated plan.

Ingersoll: That should also include economic aid for Zaire.

The Secretary: Okay, let’s get that started too.

Vance: You mentioned the possibility of giving some C–130’s when you met with Nat Davis.

Mulcahy: There’s a PM paper on that somewhere too I think.

Cutler: If you’re going to get three C–130’s you might as well get six. I gather priority has also already been given to the East Asian countries and I don’t think they could handle more than six of them.

Mulcahy: These are older models too so they’re not a real favor.

Cutler: He has about five already.

Vance: Back in the old days of the rebellions you could go anywhere in that country.

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Cutler: Three Soviet armored personnel carriers are not a lot. We’re not talking about squadrons.

Vance: He wants M–16’s—things like that. A dozen APC’s, trucks, bazookas.

Cutler: You know with just cash you can rent a lot of trucks.

The Secretary: But then we’d have to try to help them find the trucks.

Vance: We could do an awful lot just making money available.

The Secretary: If we’re going to do it we should do it. I don’t understand the difference in virginity between giving money and giving arms.

Mulcahy: They do need some money for uniforms, food, etc.

The Secretary: I have no objection to giving some money too.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 102, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive. Initialed by Bremer. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s office.
  2. In telegram 5605 from Kinshasa, June 23, Vance reported on his first meeting with Mobutu, in which he sought to reassure the President that the United States wanted to work with the Government of Zaire on Angola. ( Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–6, Documents on Africa, 1973–1976, Document 278) In telegram 5644 from Kinshasa, June 24, Vance reported on his second meeting with Mobutu regarding Angola, during which the President urged more help for both Roberto and Savimbi and proposed a power-sharing arrangement among Roberto, Neto, and Savimbi. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 7, Zaire)
  3. See footnote 6, Document 113.
  4. In May two Americans and a Dutch student were kidnapped in Tanzania and held hostage by leftist rebels from Zaire. They were released in July after their families paid their ransom.
  5. Ambassador W. Beverly Carter, Jr.