136. Telegram From the Department of State to All Diplomatic Posts 1

269496. Subject: Angolan Recognition Update. Ref: A) State 265503;2 B) Mogadiscio 3355 (Notal);3 C) Damascus 4466 (Notal).4

The last Portuguese frigate, bearing the Portuguese High Commissioner, departed Angolan waters at midnight on November 10, ending Portuguese sovereignty in Angola. As expected the Soviet-backed Popular Movement (MPLA), led by Agustinho Neto, immediately declared itself the legitimate government of Angola. Simultaneously a government was proclaimed by the National Front (FNLA) and the National Union (UNITA). This government is headed by Holden Roberto of the FNLA, with the Prime Minister to be named by UNITA. The temporary capital is to be at Huambo (formerly Nova Lisboa), in the heart of UNITA’s ethnic area.
According to information available as of November 12, the MPLA regime has been recognized by USSR, Cuba, East Germany, Poland, Mozambique, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Romania, and Brazil. No state has yet recognized the FNLA/UNITA government.
Certain posts have reported that their Foreign Ministries find the information provided in ref (A) on Angolan situation to be at variance with reports provided by roving MPLA emissaries or Soviet Embassy. You may say our information on areas of control is based on up-to date reports.
Current Situation: An FNLA/UNITA column moving up from the south has, in less than 20 days, covered 1300 kilometers, captured five district capitals and the key port of Lobito and may have reached Porto Amboin. This is only port besides Luanda still held by MPLA. Fighting also broke out November 8 or 9 in Cabinda enclave. Reports indicate forces of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda [Page 334] (FLEC), operating from Zaire, have attacked the MPLA forces in the enclave but may not have penetrated very far.
Department spokesman issued following statement November 11: Begin quote: At this time of the historic end of Portuguese rule in Angola, the United States has the fullest sympathy for people of Angola in the tragic circumstances attending their achievement of independence. We strongly hope the OAU will succeed in bringing an early end to the fighting and in promoting negotiations among all Angolan parties. We remain ready to assist the Angolan people in the vital task of building their nation. End quote.
On November 10 the Secretary responded to two questions on Angola and Soviet involvement as follows:5

Begin quote: Question: Mr. Secretary, will you discuss with us in some detail the nature and volume of the involvement of the Soviet Union and Cuba in Angola, which unexpectedly got its independence a day early? You mentioned this at a hearing the other day, and I would like to know if it is in manpower, dollars, etc.—what you can tell us about it.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, I don’t have the figures here, and I cannot go much beyond what I stated the other day, which is that the Soviet Union earlier this year introduced a substantial amount of military equipment into Angola—substantial in relation to the balance of forces that then existed, that Cuba has also participated in the form of advisors and of military equipment. We consider both of these steps by extra-continental powers a serious matter and really, as far as the Soviet Union is concerned, not compatible with the spirit of relaxation of tensions.

Question: Sir, we are also an extra-territorial power. What are [we]doing there?

Secretary Kissinger: Our interest in Angola, which is related to the fact that the access to the sea of the surrounding countries goes through Angola, was basically generated by the intervention of other countries. The United States has no other interest except the territorial integrity and independence of Angola. We strongly support the call of the Organization of African Unity for a cease-fire and for negotiation among the three factions that are involved there to form a coalition government, and we have no United States interest to pursue in Angola. End quote.

Posts should use own judgment on necessity of follow-up calls on their Foreign Ministries on Angolan recognition. In general Department believes follow-up needed only in cases where host government [Page 335] wavering on recognizing MPLA, or in cases where host governments asked to be kept informed on developments.
Neither MPLA regime nor FNLA/UNITA government has submitted applications for membership in the UN, although an MPLA delegation in New York has reportedly looked into the procedures of submitting an application. We will, of course, not support UN membership for MPLA delegation.

FYI: Preliminary consultations at the UN indicate that should MPLA application be submitted to the Security Council, it would likely receive only five votes of support (USSR, Byelorussia, Iraq, Mauritania, and Tanzania) and would likely be defeated by eight abstentions (US, UK, France, Sweden, Italy, Japan, China, and Costa Rica); nine votes in favor are required for Security Council recommendation of application to General Assembly. The positions of Cameroon and Guyana are presently unclear. Those listed as abstaining would also likely support a deferral of any MPLA application.

End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Fugit; cleared in EUR, IO, S/P, NEA, EA, ARA, and S; and approved by Mulcahy. Repeated to Lourenco Marques.
  2. Document 135.
  3. Not found.
  4. In telegram 4466 from Damascus, November 11, the Embassy reported: “Had impression that Syria is waiting final word from Kampala regarding OAU’s last-ditch efforts at reconciliation, which it hopes will succeed, but that SARG will soon recognize govt of Angola in any case.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  5. For the text of the November 10 press conference, see Department of State Bulletin, December 1, 1975, pp. 776–784.