121. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary
  • Deputy Secretary Ingersoll
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Deputy Under Secretary Eagleburger
  • Ambassador Vance
  • Ambassador Davis
  • Jerry Bremer, Notetaker


  • Angola

The Secretary: I noticed that President Kaunda has reacted in a way totally unpredicted by AF. He’s delighted but concerned that we’ll leak it. That’s inconceivable don’t you think? (laughter) [less than 1 line not declassified] He’s eager and he’s designated Chona as the cut-out man.2 I think this will be the reaction of the other Africans too. You guys have the Africans pegged all wrong. They act in foreign policy as they act in domestic policy.

Now on Zaire, how can we communicate with Mobutu in a reliable way?

Vance: Well, as you know, I took the Chargé [less than 1 line not declassified] in on the meetings. [less than 1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: We must get an Ambassador out there fast.

Vance: I agree. These goodies will help rub off on him too. [1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: What decisions do we need to make now?

[Page 291]

Vance: We have the figure of roughly [dollar amount not declassified] which I know he would not see as enough—and I would agree with that.

The Secretary: I’ve never thought it was enough.

Vance: (handing the Secretary a memo) We have this list also. This does not include anti-aircraft and tents.3

The Secretary: Why does he need anti-aircraft?

Vance: The Portuguese have aircraft and they’re afraid it may be used against them.

The Secretary: The first thing is, how much do we need?

Vance: I think [dollar amount not declassified]

The Secretary: My view is that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right and the amount we put in will not increase the heat we take.

Ingersoll: Colby says if we go too far, we may have budget problems.

The Secretary: I don’t want to hear about Colby. If he doesn’t send the arms then that’s a point—but it is crazy not to send arms. Who is backstopping this back here? We’d better get Larry in here. (Kissinger makes a phone call to Eagleburger)

Vance: Mobutu’s suggestion which I think makes sense is that we get the stuff to him and he then releases his stuff to Angola. Then it goes fast and it’s not US stuff.

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Vance: [1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified](Eagleburger enters room) The way to handle this is to send our stuff by ship, not by air. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Davis: [less than 1 line not declassified]

The Secretary: Well, Larry, I want you and Bob to follow this Zaire thing. [less than 1 line not declassified]Mobutu is to send his arms into Angola from his own stock. We can use the CIA stuff to replace his stuff. Most of it we should send by ship [less than 1 line not declassified] Tell Colby I want no more crying. It’s decided. Get that equipment in there.

Vance: Mobutu wants new US equipment and not the European stuff.

The Secretary: Well, let’s give him US equipment. How do we pay for it?

[Page 292]

Ingersoll: That’s Colby’s problem.

The Secretary: Work it out with Colby and tell him to do it.

Sisco: He has problems because he has got money all right, but arms are more difficult.

The Secretary: That has been decided. At least let’s give Mobutu what he wants. Does he have a chance in this?

Vance: He thinks so. He’s moved equipment for up to 5 battalions into Angola over the months and nine armored cars during this last week.

The Secretary: Who is handling Savimbi?

Vance: He says we should take Belgian and French equipment from the five battalions and give four to Roberto and one to Savimbi.

The Secretary: Is there any reason not to do that?

Sisco: No.

Vance: This will then replace it.

The Secretary: It’s all below the [dollar amount not declassified] which the President has approved.

Sisco: Let’s do it fast now that it’s being done.

The Secretary: I agree, let’s do it fast and get an Ambassador in who doesn’t get a heart attack when things get rough.

Vance: Do I understand he’s approved the [dollar amount not declassified]

The Secretary: Yes, and he’s only released [dollar amount not declassified]

Vance: The other thing is, he hopes we’ll replace what he’s given out of his mobilization reserve.

The Secretary: The major problem is to get it moving fast. Bob will you talk to Clements please?

Ingersoll: I can.

The Secretary: Now that it’s being done, it must be done fast.

Vance: By air we can certainly send in the urgent things.

The Secretary: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Vance: We could deliver the M–16’s in just four flights.

The Secretary: Then double the flights and do it in two weeks.

Cutler: That’s certainly fast enough. He’s willing to take a small gap if he knows our stuff is coming.

The Secretary: Get him a message saying we’ve approved it and we’re working out the details next week. What are you working on now anyway?

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Angola.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 102, Geopolitical File, Angola Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. As reported in telegram 1372 from Lusaka, July 23. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 8, Zambia)
  3. Memorandum and list are not attached.