211. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Zambia1

239414. Subject: Message for President Kaunda.

Please pass the following message to President Kaunda.
“Dear Mr. President: I understand that you and President Nyerere will be meeting very shortly to discuss the Rhodesian situation, Ian Smith’s statement2 and the next steps in a settlement. I also understand that Prime Minister Callaghan has been in touch with you.
“There are several points, in my judgment, that all of us must keep in mind as we consider what Ian Smith said. First, Smith’s remarks were addressed to an audience which could only receive the news with the deepest sense of shock. He therefore used language we would not have recommended but which has to be understood. Second, the Salisbury authorities are now irrevocably committed to majority rule within a two-year period. Third, they are also committed to the principle of a black majority interim government. Fourth, the sixth point in Smith’s announcement—the economic program—is a matter for discussion with the members of an international consortium and not a subject on which the front line presidents need take a position. Fifth, the specificity of Smith’s proposals is due in large part to our pressure. We feared that a general proposal would only encourage him to procrastinate later.
“There are aspects of Smith’s announcement which will have to be developed in greater detail. I would like to share with you my thoughts on the principal subjects:
  • —I do not believe that a meeting to negotiate the formation of an interim government need take place in Salisbury or anywhere else in Rhodesia. Nor do I believe that it would be advisable to hold such a meeting in London. We are prepared as you and I discussed to back the convening of the negotiations in any other place mutually convenient to all the parties involved.
  • —There is no possibility that, under the proposals, Smith can run the show. Indeed, once the interim government is formed, the present structure in Salisbury would disappear.
  • —It should be understood that each side in the negotiations will be free to nominate its community’s members to the Council of State. Even [Page 596] though the Chairman of the Council of State would be European, it is our understanding that he would have to be selected with the approval of the other members. In short, his selection could only be based on a consensus of the members at large.
  • —The United States will promote no individual or faction on the African side. That responsibility falls to the Rhodesian nationalists and in this matter you and President Nyerere have an important role to play.
“I believe that the other questions raised by Ian Smith’s statement are subject to negotiation. It is my judgment, however, that an ungenerous response to Smith’s statement at this point will give him the chance, which he may wish, to back away from his commitment. We must avoid such an eventuality at all costs. The proposals which we advanced to Smith are a distillation of the consultations we had with you and the other front line presidents and the United Kingdom.
“We have done everything possible to bring matters this far and cannot be expected to continue our efforts if the framework which the Smith announcement offers does not lead to negotiations. A breakdown in the settlement at this point could only lead to continued and escalating violence, so a decision not to accept the opportunity now offered would be a serious one. What is needed now, in short, is a positive response which will maintain momentum. A positive response is needed from the African leaders now because we recognize that continued US pressure may be necessary to keep the Rhodesians to the execution of the conditions in the proposals. This we pledge, if the African response enables negotiations to go forward.
“Your wisdom and foresight has been vital in bringing the process thus far and I completely share the views you so eloquently expressed that there may not be another opportunity and matters may take their inexorable course. It is my earnest hope that the momentum towards a settlement and peace can be maintained and that the parties to the negotiations will meet without delay.
“I look forward to having yours and President Nyerere’s and President Khama’s views. With warm regards, Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Wisner, cleared by Rogers, and approved by Kissinger.
  2. See Document 209.