220. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State 1

8710. For the Secretary from Schaufele. Subject: Rhodesian Conference: British Game Plan.

My consultations with Richard lead me to conclude that the British plan at Geneva, for the present, consists of confirming a date of independence and majority rule and then moving to the question of an interim government. With respect to the date for independence, Richard plans to attach to a confirmed date specific conditions. These may include an assurance no final date will be settled until the constitution is drafted.
Richard will avoid any discussion of the franchise and work to make sure that question is raised only after the interim government is formed. He will hold out until a much later date Geneva consideration of Britain’s role during the period of transition.
Once the independence date issue is resolved, the British will resist further African suggestions that preconditions be set and undertake immediate discussion of the structure and functions of an interim government. As I noted in Geneva’s 8688,2 the British have asked each delegation to submit proposals; only Muzorewa has done so and his is not a satisfactory discussion paper. These proposals developed by each delegation will be circulated to the other delegations and comments will be solicited.
Richard wishes to maintain his tactical flexibility. He will pursue the negotiations in a variety of fora. Depending on the situation he will meet privately with delegation principals and their key subordinates. He will reinforce his meetings with the nationalists through informal sessions with the observers. Once consensus on a given issue has emerged, he plans to hold confidential inter-delegation meetings like the one he chaired yesterday, i.e., without observers and with limited number of advisors for each delegation. Richard will convene more formal plenary sessions only when agreement has been achieved and when the needs of public perception so dictate. This method of opera[Page 617]tions conforms to Richard’s informal, personal style. He is at greater ease and more effective in this setting. The method has many advantages—principally the discouragement of African public rhetoric.
Tactically Richard will open discussion of specific items and if a consensus does not develop will move on to new issues returning to the unresolved ones at a later point.
Even though the British have refused to be “nailed to the five points” and the Africans have rejected them categorically, the five points have emerged as the conference’s informal agenda. The first point—independence and majority rule—is under consideration now. The second point has been met. The framework of point three has effectively been accepted by all delegations as the basis for the next round of negotiations.
We will keep you informed of any changes in Richard’s game plan. He has requested no American intervention beyond asking us to encourage Smith to show greater flexibility on the independence date issue. He greatly appreciated my approaches to Smith.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Secret; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. In telegram 8688 from Geneva, November 3, Schaufele reported on his meeting with Richard, Duff, and Grennan to discuss the results of the inter-delegation meeting on November 2. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 14, Switzerland—State Department Telegrams, To SecState—Nodis (12))