160. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Portugal 1

300231. Subject: Angola. Ref: Lisbon 7514.2

We welcome offer by FonMin Melo Antunes to be helpful in Angolan situation. You may tell him that despite current adverse attitude in Congress that USG is determined to push ahead with resistance to Soviet power grab in Angola. Furthermore we are taking further steps in examining promising options to block any deterioration on the ground or elsewhere in Africa.
Specifically we are protesting to those governments which have provided overflight and refueling rights to Soviet or Cuban aircraft carrying arms, equipment and personnel to Angola. In this connection we are concerned that Cubans, now that Barbados refueling stop has been denied them and Trinidad and Tobago has refused permission, may request similar facilities through Azores. We believe it essential that such a request be denied. We estimate number of Cuban troops already in Angola at 5,000 or more. Presence is enormously destabilizing and GOP could make important contribution by denying use of Azores to Cuban planes ferrying either troops or military supplies to Africa for Angola or returning from there even if empty.
We also taking various diplomatic initiatives including direct approach to the Soviets.3 While we are not opposed to MPLA per se we continue to believe that there must be a negotiated settlement in Angola permitting all three movements equitable representation in some form of coalition government. We fully support OAU efforts to this end.
We would welcome GOP intelligence on Angola. We understand there is a Portuguese liaison group of some kind in Luanda and would appreciate any information about GOP relations with three An[Page 409]golan factions and its assessment of political, economic and military situation.
We would welcome GOP efforts with African countries which it can influence to (A) dissuade them from recognizing MPLA and (B) acquaint them with the nature of the threat. Our information indicates following have recognized MPLA so far—Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Congo, Guinea, Malagasy, Mozambique, Algeria, Sao Tome-Principe, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Benin (Dahomey), Tanzania, and Sudan.
One way in which GOP might be helpful is to facilitate the recruitment of mercenaries. However [less than 1 line not declassified] is examining this and other more concrete ways in which GOP might be able to help and will communicate them to you [1½ lines not declassified]
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P850012–2205. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Schaufele, cleared in EUR/WE and C, and approved by Kissinger.
  2. In telegram 7514 from Lisbon, December 18, the Embassy reported on a meeting between Melo Antunes and Carlucci to discuss “the problem of the U.S. Congress and Angola.” During the meeting, Melo Antunes “expressed concern” over Soviet involvement in the region and offered to collaborate with the United States on Angola. Carlucci suggested to the Department that collaboration with Portugal in the following areas might be useful: intelligence, diplomatic action with African nations, and informing others of the “nature of the threat.” (Ibid.)
  3. See Documents 140 and 145.