41. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

148716. Subject: Rhodesia. Ref.: CA 4706, September 4, 1970(Notal).2

During discussions with HMG concerning NSC decisions on Rhodesian sanctions,3 Embassy requested touch on separate subject possible future Anglo-Rhodesian talks to find acceptable solution present impasse. Embassy may draw on following points in making its presentation.
Rhodesia is clearly British problem and responsibility. We also recognize there many roadblocks in way of reaching acceptable accord with Salisbury. But as we have been and are involved with the problem, we would like to share with HMG some reflections on possible British initiatives this area:
As none of Rhodesia’s neighbors appears to feel comfortable with present situation, might there be virtue in HMG seeking their views (principally in Lisbon, Lusaka and Pretoria) before entering again into direct negotiations with Smith with the attendant full glare of public attention and African criticism. While Zambians and South Africans might not rpt not find it possible publicly to acclaim an acceptable compromise settlement, privately they and the Portuguese might have suggestions on ways to move the issue off dead center toward solution with which they could live. (FYI. We are not rpt not optimistic that another direct approach to Salisbury will be any more productive than the earlier “Tiger” or “Fearless” negotiations unless other affected players can be brought into act in some meaningful and constructive way. We also concerned that should new talks fail, HMG might tend to ease sanctions enforcement, leaving difficult choices to USG. End FYI.)
Although we have no way gauging probable Portuguese reaction, it occurs to us HMG reviewing future of Beira patrol and in view indications of Portuguese interest and involvement in European developments (British entry Common Market and Portuguese aspirations in [Page 118] Europe) Lisbon might be receptive to invitation from HMG offer helpful suggestions.
It also seems to us that both Zambians and South Africans—Zambia because it feels its security threatened and South Africa for reasons related to its “outward” foreign policy objectives—would be happy to see end to present abnormal and unsettling situation in Rhodesia.
Embassy should make clear we are not rpt not making formal proposal for action, but only sharing thoughts and suggesting ideas for UK consideration. Team which will be visiting London to discuss our suggestions on ways to increase effectiveness of sanctions, would be interested in British reaction to these other thoughts on how to resolve the Rhodesian problem, as well as any info HMG might wish to share with USG on timing of new talks with Salisbury.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, FT 11–2 RHOD. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Bruce; cleared in draft in AF/E and IO/UNP; cleared in AF/S, EUR/SPP, and EUR/BMI; and approved by Newsom. Repeated to Lisbon, Lusaka, Pretoria, Cape Town, and USUN.
  2. In Airgram CA–4706 to London, September 4, the Department instructed the Embassy to explain decisions to grant the hardship exception for Union Carbide and to allow the sale of Rhodesian assets before advancing proposals to make sanctions more effective. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 39.