172. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Mr. Journiac, Staff of French President Giscard d’Estaing
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State

Journiac: I have just returned from Kinshasa where I saw Mobutu and his Foreign Minister and discussed Angola. I found the diplomatic situation favorable, with the moderate Africans prepared to face the leftists. The situation could, however, be improved. For the Africans, Angola is a white man’s affair which they look to the West to solve. This present confidence in the West, however, will not last if the military situation continues to deteriorate. Most of the moderate African regimes are not ideologically motivated, and they tend to favor the west because they see us as their traditional friends and as stronger than the Communists. Whether this state of things will last will depend on the military outcome. We believe the military collapse in northern Angola thus far is not too significant because the Zaire Army never was an effective fighting force. A relatively modest effort on our part could re-establish the situation. If the [dollar amount not declassified] is still available, the necessary operation could be mounted to retake some of the lost territory and stabilize the situation. If, on the other hand, nothing is done, South Africa will reduce its involvement. If we do act, South Africa will maintain its presence. The question is whether you have the resources to mount such an operation and on this score your people are pessimistic.

Secretary: Can it be done with available money, or is additional money needed?

Journiac: Our people say the necessary money is presently not available. An account was to have been opened, but nothing has happened.

Secretary: This is a national disgrace. The Cubans are able to send 10,000 men to Angola, and we are unable to even send money! The effects of this will be negative for years to come. I will let you know at the end of next week what the possibilities are.

Journiac: I do not see any alternative policy to the one I outlined. The Zairians are pessimistic about the situation. What the US does in [Page 428] Angola will have an impact on African attitudes throughout the continent. Not just in Zaire, but among our other friends as well. The present US position is inconceivable to me, and I believe that the African “fence-sitters” will assess the consequences of US inaction and shift from our camp to the other one. In addition, it is our real friends like Houphouet and Senghor who are threatened.

Secretary: I agree with you completely. Where do things stand on your helicopters?

Journiac: We are working on that. In addition, Zaire has asked us for propeller-driven aircraft, Skyraiders and T–28s. These are obsolete models and we do not have enough to respond to this request. You can help us with the Zaire request, by turning some over to us for us to turn over to Zaire.

Secretary: I will let you know by the end of next week what I think we can do. The problem is that the fools in Congress have accused us of involving the US in a “major secret war in Angola” and have produced legislation prohibiting us from acting in Angola. I am due to testify next week and expect the session to be violent and negative. As I said, I will inform you late next week about the prospects.

Journiac: Let me thank you for receiving me, and I convey the best wishes of my President.

Secretary: Please convey to your President my high esteem and my admiration for what he is doing in Angola.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 344, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External, January–April 1976. Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Hilton Hotel. The Secretary was in Belgium to brief NATO officials on U.S.-Soviet arms limitation talks.