35. Telegram From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State 1

Secto 96/5481. Uncleared, FYI only. Subject to revision on review.

Subj: Secretary’s Visit: Discussions with Foreign Secretary—Arms to South Africa.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home said that the UKG was bound to operate the Simonstown Agreement. It had been decided, however, that there would be narrower definition of categories of arms to be supplied by the UK to South Africa. The definition would be “arms for protection of sea routes”.
Sir Alec reviewed the British assessment of the strategic situation. He noted the Soviet presence in the Indian Ocean and that the Soviets were active in Aden and in Somalia. The Communist Chinese were involved in construction of a naval base for Tanzania. Given these activities in the area, it was the British view that Simonstown could play an important part in the strategic picture. The UKG had therefore decided that it must carry through the implementation of the Simonstown Agreement. He recognized that there would be “squeals” from African countries and probably difficulties in the UN; nevertheless, the UK was determined to proceed.
In response to the Secretary’s question, Sir Alec said that HMG was in the process of consulting the Commonwealth. He hoped that none of the governments concerned would leave the Commonwealth, although some were unpredictable, as for example Ceylon under the leadership of Mrs. Bandaranaike. He noted that there might be a particular problem with Kaunda.
Sir Alec stated that British arms policy with respect to Portugal would not be changed.
The Secretary responded that the UK decision would cause problems for the United States. He noted that our relations with black African states were probably better than they had been for some time.
Sir Alec expressed the hope that the US could say that it understood the UK decision and the reasons for it.
The Secretary suggested that there be close consultation and said that we would try to work out something mutually acceptable. In response to his question, Sir Alec said that the British Government would be making an announcement of its policy about July 20. It was agreed that there would be consultation in advance on the announcement to be made by the UK and on a statement the US would then make.
Department repeat other posts as desired.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 S AFR. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated Priority to Pretoria and repeated to USUN. Rogers was in the United Kingdom to meet with Prime Minister Heath and Foreign Secretary Douglas-Home.