198. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger has asked that I pass on to you the following report of his meeting with Prime Minister Callaghan.2

“I had a breakfast and meeting Thursday with Callaghan for almost two-and-a-half hours at Number Ten Downing Street. We talked mainly about Southern Africa.

Callaghan told me he praises you to every American who comes through London, and he expressed confidence you would win. He was confident also about his own domestic economic situation. He will announce tomorrow that Britain has cut its inflation down to 12.8 per cent (roughly in half). I told him his new economic program was a courageous decision. He felt that with this program, with the unions’ continued cooperation, and with the on-schedule development of North Sea oil, they would be on their feet.

“We then turned to Rhodesia. Callaghan thought we were up against heavy odds; Britain had been living with the problem for over ten years. But he was ready to cooperate. America’s active involvement and South Africa’s cooperation were two big new factors on the positive side. He repeated the British fear that Ian Smith was a hard man to crack, and quite skilled in maneuvering and evasion. I said that for this reason we all had to move fast. Callaghan agreed.

“We then worked out the following scenario:

  • —First, we will complete work on the economic package that U.S. and British experts have been putting together, the guarantees to induce the whites to stay in a majority-ruled Rhodesia. This should be finished early next week.
  • —Secondly, the British will draft necessary legislation to assert British authority over Rhodesia. The South Africans regard some transitional period and some British presence as essential. Callaghan is fearful of a formal British authority that implicitly commits him to use British troops if necessary to back it up; he is, however, willing to have Parliament confer legal authority on a council of interested parties in Rhodesia to negotiate the way to independence and majority rule, with a civilian British presence to monitor the negotiations.
  • —Third, we will draft documents which will secure African, South African and international agreement to the new political arrangements.
  • —When these are complete, which should be in about two weeks, I will send Bill Rogers and Bill Schaufele to give Nyerere and Kaunda a general idea and obtain their overall agreement. The British will send a team of their own to Africa with the same purpose, shortly afterward.
  • —With the Black Africans lined up, I will take it to Vorster early in September. With his approval, we will then proceed to put the arrangements into effect rapidly with the Black Africans.

“We reached general agreement also on Namibia, i.e., to move the Constitutional Conference from Windhoek to Geneva, invite SWAPO, and give a terminal date for independence. The British, having no responsibility, would like to move faster. But this is the maximum Vorster will take now. The British have agreed to keep at least silent on their preferences.

Callaghan and I agreed our two countries would proceed jointly on these issues from here on.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 91, Geopolitical File, Africa, Chronological File, August 1–5, 1976. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the first page of the memorandum.
  2. Scowcroft received the report in a telegram from London, August 5. (Ibid., Box CL 266, Cables File, Kissinger, Henry, May 26–August 6, 1976)