91. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Meeting with Congo (K) President Mobutu: Portugal and Angola (Part 3 of 5)


  • Congolese:
    • H. E. Joseph Desire Mobutu, President, Congo (K)
    • H. E. Jean-Theodore Umba–Di–Lutete, Minister Delegate at the Presidency
    • H. E. Evariste Loliki, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Mr. Barthelemy Bisengimana, Director of Cabinet of the Presidency
  • U.S.:
    • Secretary Rogers
    • Ambassador Sheldon B. Vance
    • Assistant Secretary Newsom
    • John McKesson, Director, AF/C

President Mobutu raised the problem of Angola. He explained that his Government was supporting Holden Roberto, leader of the Revolutionary Government of Angola in Exile (GRAE), while many other Africans were supporting the Popular Movement for the Liberation of An[Page 211]gola (MPLA), which was communist-oriented. Mobutu said that there was no question but that Angola would eventually become independent. If independence is achieved with Holden Roberto in command, relations can develop amicably between Angola and the Congo, but if the MPLA takes over upon the independence of Angola, the Congo will have very serious problems all along the extended frontier between the two countries. Within the Organization for African Unity (OAU), Algeria strongly supports the MPLA while the Congo has so far been able to maintain OAU backing for GRAE. In the long run this situation could lead to grave difficulties.

Mr. Newsom stated that we understood the problem and worked with Holden Roberto as much as our relations with Portugal permit. The Secretary said that he was in Lisbon recently and talked to Caetano.2 He did not see much evidence of a change on the part of Portugal but he hoped that there might be eventually. The Secretary stated that we are doing what we can to be helpful. The Secretary felt that Caetano would like to make changes but had to face his own hard-liners. Mr. Newsom noted that the Congo had practical contacts with the Portugese in Kinshasa and he said that we would like to hear any ideas the Congolese might have on how we could deal more effectively with the Portuguese.

Mobutu said that events such as the MPLA being received in Rome by the Pope while Holden’s group was kept aside were very bad. This gave a psychological advantage to the MPLA over GRAE which was most unfortunate. Mobutu said that the US should try to persuade Lisbon to negotiate with Holden Roberto. In this connection, Mobutu noted that the Western powers had leverage over Portugal through investments in Angola. The US and other foreign countries were investing in oil and diamonds in Angola and this represented encouragement for Portugal.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 17 THE CONGO. Secret. Drafted by McKesson on August 10 and cleared by Newsom. The meeting was held in Rogers’s office.
  2. See Document 90.