166. Telegram From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1

11014. For the Secretary and Mulcahy from Schaufele. Subject: Angola: Meeting with Mosutu.

I met with President Mobutu for an hour and a half this morning, December 27, at his country residence. Also present were his chief advisor, Bisengimana, Foreign Minister Bula and Ambassador Cutler.
I began by explaining the purpose of my trip: to consult personally with several key African leaders on Angola, to explain our position and assure them of our continued resolve to oppose foreign intervention, and to exchange views on ways by which the OAU might facilitate a negotiated settlement in Angola. I said we wanted to consult with Mobutu as a first step, and then reviewed with him the substance of the points which I intend to make with the governments I would be visiting. I said I would also be seeing a number of our Ambassadors from other African countries and would instruct them to make the same points to their respective host governments. Mobutu expressed agreement with my presentation and satisfaction that we were taking such an initiative at this time.
With respect to our own efforts in Angola, I said that despite problems with the Congress we remained determined to resist Soviet military intervention until a peaceful solution could be worked out. I noted that the issue had by no means been played out in the Congress, and if necessary the administration was prepared to renew the battle when Congress reconvenes next month. For now, however, we have sufficient funds to meet present military requirements.
Mobutu said the Congress’action posed serious problems, both from the standpoint of limiting prospects for additional help and the adverse effect on the attitudes and will of others trying to help. Of even greater concern, he went on, was the question of Zaire’s own security in the face of Soviet threats not only to the south in Angola but also on other sides—in Cabinda and Congo Brazzaville. While the Soviets poured military equipment into those areas Zaire remained essentially unprotected: none of the country’s vital areas—Inga Dam, the copper belt, the capital, the ports—had any protection from military attack. [Page 416] Nor did Zaire have any means for making its own armaments. While the Soviet Union and its friends “guaranteed” continued support “until the end” to those threatening Zaire’s security, Zaire had no such assurances. I expressed understanding of Mobutu’s concerns, assured him we would continue to do our best to help, and discussed in this context our FMS and economic assistance programs for the coming year.
I then turned to the urgent matter of preventing any additional recognitions of the MPLA before the OAU summit, noting that Zaire was in a position to play a key role in this effort and that we, for our part, were ready to lend support in any way possible. Mobutu reiterated his belief that no more than twenty African states will have recognized the MPLA by the time the OAU convenes, leaving a clear majority with which to work at the meeting. He conceded, however, that the MPLA and its backers were waging a vigorous campaign which had to be watched carefully. Mobutu blamed Algeria in particular for trying to drum up support for MPLA in the name of “non-alignment.” We then reviewed the status of individual states: Cameroon was shaky but visits by both Bula and me during the next few days should help. Chad was also doubtful, but Mobutu (working through Bongo) had assured them of some military assistance as a counter to the Soviets’ help. The Nigerians, I said, were worth continued attention since, despite their recognition of the MPLA, they had told us they still supported the idea of a coalition government; Mobutu agreed. On the other hand, Mobutu thought Ghana had caved because of Nigerian pressure and was not salvageable.
Comment: Mobutu was obviously concerned about developments in Washington and their effects on both the Angolan effort and our ability to continue contributing to Zaire’s own security. However, he was not discouraged and seemed readily to accept my assurances that we have every intention of staying in the game. Somewhat to my surprise, he did not raise the question of South African forces in Angola,2 as I thought he might with a view to seeking our intercession to keep them there. While we did not get into the substance of Mobutu’s views on a possible OAU settlement—and I am not sure his thinking has progressed very far along this line or that he concerns himself with such details—it is clear that he views the OAU summit as a major challenge, and opportunity, for movement on the political front. (He did point out that the heavily armed and equipped position of MPLA forces makes cease-fire disadvantageous for the other movements and Zaire.) It is also clear that he shares our concern for holding the line on MPLA recognition before the summit. In this connection, Foreign Min[Page 417]ister Bula will be sent shortly to Zambia and Uganda, as well as Cameroon, to maintain pressure on this issue.
I am convinced that, while we can continue to count on Zaire in the military sphere, we cannot look to Mobutu to provide the major impetus for effectively organizing political/diplomatic efforts among friendly African states prior to or during the OAU meeting.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 7, Zaire—State Department Telegrams, To SecState—Nodis. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
  2. See Document 165.