199. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Amb. R.F. Botha, Ambassador of South Africa
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
- Amb. William E. Schaufele, Jr., Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
- Frank G. Wisner, Country Director for South Africa
- Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
Kissinger: Two things. You expressed some doubts about meeting in Europe.
Botha: That’s correct, sir.
Kissinger: Let me express my view. I agree with you the thing won’t be settled unless I talked to the top people there. But it also won’t get settled if the blacks think they can drive me crazy. If I go to Africa and go to Pretoria first, then they’ve got me, because—if it fails—they’ll have me in the position of having put myself at the mercy of the racist Vorster. That’s what they’ll say. If I meet you elsewhere, and then go to black Africa, and then Pretoria—that way it is in the course of negotiations. And if it’s going to fail, I can send Schaufele. You will have put forward a good proposal.
As for where to meet. Maybe Switzerland, Berne. Geneva. Geneva doesn’t have particularly good meeting places.
Botha: Zurich is very nice.
Kissinger: Some mountains.
Botha: The Matterhorn!
Kissinger: That’s a little high. [Laughter.] Maybe Rio.
I don’t know what the Brazilians would think.
Botha: The climate is always warm there.
Kissinger: This is winter. It would be pleasant. It’s a little frivolous for Afrikaners. [Laughter.]
Botha: Mr. Secretary, I think my Prime Minister was a bit upset. The ball is starting to roll. He is worried about the time. He thought you could go directly to the Africans.[Page 514]
Kissinger: I don’t exclude it; it depends on whether they are accommodating to Bill. If they say, “For God’s sakes, let’s do it.”
Botha: That’s all the Prime Minister wanted to know.
Kissinger: But it puts you at a disadvantage. If they make demands you can’t meet, you are put in the position of breaking up the negotiations.
Botha: We wonder whether you are putting too much stock in what the black Africans are saying. It’s a lot of bluff with these fellows usually.
Kissinger: Just don’t lose your cool. I can’t understand nervous Afrikaners. The meaner you are, the better.
Botha: Can I show you this? [He shows the Secretary a summary of a Le Monde interview with Machel, Tab A.]2
Botha: You told us not to convey to the British anything. It’s been done [answer conveyed to the British], but in words that we have to study it first.
Kissinger: Good. Here [Tab B] is the paper we are thinking of. They [the British] have the idea the white minority should have a veto over constitutional changes. We shouldn’t get so precise when we are in exploratory negotiations. We won’t show this to the blacks, because they will start bargaining from it. I can’t exclude that the British won’t. Bill will be instructed to say that if there is a discrepancy between what the British say and what we say, ours is governing.
Botha: It is not good if you and the British are selling different things.
Kissinger: I’m worried about the British.
Botha: You must pardon my emphasizing this, Mr. Secretary, but if the British try to sell the Africans something different, it is bad.
Kissinger: I agree.
Botha: It won’t work, Mr. Secretary.[Page 515]
Kissinger: This paper will be the same. This is agreed. But the British may tell them more of the details than we do.
Botha: As for the possibility of our exerting pressure on Machel, the answer is yes, we have leverage but it is a two-edged sword. If we use it, we forfeit it. So we shouldn’t use it easily. That is something for you to discuss with my Prime Minister.
Kissinger: Yes, and Bill may see Machel.
Botha: It would be good if you see Kenyatta. Your relations are good.
Kissinger: Excellent. I saw a report he likes me better than any Westerner since Duncan Sandys. [Laughter.] Maybe Bill can see Kenyatta.
Botha: If it prolongs his trip . . .
Kissinger: I want him back.
Wisner [to Schaufele:] You’re going through Nairobi.
Kissinger: But it is senseless to see that half-witted Foreign Minister.
Schaufele: Our Ambassador is seeing Kenyatta.
Kissinger: All right, we’ll send a letter from me.
Botha: If they think Dr. Kissinger is coming, that they like.
Kissinger: For a practitioner of apartheid, you are throwing me in with a lot of blacks. [Laughter.] I’ll have to go to the Ivory Coast, Nigeria.
Botha: Nigeria. In the middle of Angola, the previous head of Nigeria sent a man to us and asked for a document from us. We stuck to our deal, and they didn’t.
Kissinger: What was the agreement?
Botha: If we would consider withdrawing our troops, they would exert a strong influence to get the Cubans out. We were prepared, but they did nothing. They just hammered us publicly.
Kissinger: This document—you should let us know in a day or two whether you think it’s a reasonable basis for proceeding. It won’t be communicated to anyone else.
Then the two Bills will go to Tanzania, Zambia, and maybe Mozambique.
Then I’ll trigger the whole thing. I’ll meet your Prime Minister. If they react favorably to Bill, I may go directly to black Africa.
Botha: Right, sir.
[Secretary Kissinger and Amb. Botha conferred alone from 2:45 to 2:55 p.m.][Page 516]
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 344, Department of State, Memoranda, Memoranda of Conversations, External, August 1976. Secret; Nodis. Initialed by Rodman. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office. All brackets, except as noted in the footnotes below, are in the original.↩
- Attached but not printed. Samora Machel told Le Monde: “South Africa needs us as much as we need it—I do not spend sleepless nights over our relations with South Africa.” Machel expressed concern that South Africa might cut its links to Mozambique in retaliation for FRELIMO activities against Rhodesia.↩
- Telegram 917 from Maputo, August 14, transmitted Machel’s comments on the Rhodesian raid. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P840123–0595)↩
- The New York Times reported that on August 10 Rhodesian troops crossed into Mozambique and killed 300 guerrillas in a camp used to launch attacks against Rhodesia. (“Rhodesia Says It Attacked Rebel Site in Mozambique,” August 11, 1976, p. 1)↩
- Bracketed insertion by the editor.↩
- Bracketed insertion by the editor.↩
- The Lome Convention, signed on February 28, 1975, was an agreement between the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries (ACP) group and the European Community that aimed at supporting the ACP states’ development efforts.↩