145. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Amb. Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR Ambassador to the United States
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Delay of Kissinger trip; SALT; Middle East; Angola
[Page 366]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Angola.]

[The President:] There is another problem—Angola. We don’t think the turmoil there is good. I know in general what you are doing and some of the others. It is not a healthy situation to have that sort of tearing-up situation going on. If we could find some sort of settlement where no one would lose face . . .

Dobrynin: We have no troops there.

The President: But you have our neighbors to the south there—Cuba.

Kissinger: If you could get the Cuban troops withdrawn . . .

Dobrynin: Why don’t you talk to the Cubans?

Kissinger: We have almost no contact. But if you could withdraw them we would get other outside forces withdrawn. If you stop the airlift we will do likewise, and we could turn to a coalition.

Dobrynin: Already almost 50% of the nations have recognized one side. They have always refused a coalition.

Kissinger: If you keep putting equipment in and we do, then we create a strain on our relations because then someone must win and someone lose. Then perhaps the UN could help.

Dobrynin: It is difficult to check equipment. We have to do it directly, but through Zaire it can be done indirectly—not that we accuse you of that. I think a political solution should come first. We are not interested in Angola. It was the process of decolonization. But you know how Africa goes. One day it goes this way; another day that way.

Kissinger: We can’t defend to our people your massive airlift and the Cuban troops. It can’t go on without raising serious questions here. We will have to find ways either to insulate it or match it.

Dobrynin: It is not up to me to argue. Angola is a long way away. I will convey to my government. If you had some proposal other than “you just shouldn’t do this.”

The President: I am for détente, but this is difficult for me to explain.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 17, Ford Administration. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.