202. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1 2

[Omitted here are portions of the discussion unrelated to Nigeria.]

MR. NEWSOM: May I also mention, Mr. Secretary, the Gowon matter? As you probably know, the Nigerians turned down the two other options that we proposed—meeting the President in Washington on the 4th and in Key Biscayne on the 5th.


MR. NEWSOM: 5th.


MR. NEWSOM: Yes; Friday the 5th, at 3 o’clock.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I didn’t know this, that he was going to leave that early. O.K.

MR. NEWSOM: The reply back from the Nigerians quoted the Permanent Secretary as saying that they regretted that a meeting with the President would not be possible at this time, and we read it in a way that suggested that further efforts to fix the date would probably not be effective as long as the President was going to be out of town on Friday—the time we originally picked. We have a recommendation coming to you and [Page 2] going to the White House that in view of Lagos’ importance as head of the OAU and its symbol in Africa, that the President telephone him either in Laos or in New York, when he’s there, to re-extend the current invitation for an official state visit sometime in the next year or so.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I’ll try, but he almost never does it.

MR. NEWSOM: We also would like to recommend to you that you—

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I certainly will not call him in Lagos; I might call him in New York, but I wouldn’t bet on that. I’ll support it.

MR. NEWSOM: All right. Now, we would also like to suggest that we propose—in a way which, I should explain, will not embarrass us—your calling on General Gowon while he’s in New York.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Isn’t that fixed already?

MR. NEWSOM: It is not fixed. Now, the problem is that we have some indication [Page 3] that the Nigerians are taking a very hard position that no Foreign Ministers can call on. General Gowon since he’s a Head of State—

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Well, that’s tough!

MR. NEWSOM:—and we might encounter a rebuff there, in which case we would still recommend that we set up a bilateral with the Foreign Minister, Dr. Arikpo.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: That sort of bothers me. When would he want to do that—Saturday morning? Is that possible?

MR. NEWSOM: Well, we’ll work on it.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Work it into the schedule somewhere.

MR. NEWSOM: All right.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I’ll be happy to do it.

MR. NEWSOM: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: But let’s not make a Federal case of it. Let’s not go pleading with them.

MR. NEWSOM: No, no.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Don’t send three Country Directors out there.

[Page 4]

MR. NEWSOM: I would like to make the offer in a low key. If it’s picked up, fine; if not, we’ll leave it.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: We’re not in a pleading matter.

MR. NEWSOM: No, no.

MR. PORTER: Call him up or see him?

MR. NEWSOM: I would like to try both.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Why do I have to see the Foreign Minister of Nigeria if I can’t call him?

MR. NEWSOM: It’s One of the largest countries in Africa. It’s a country from which we’re now importing about 20 percent of our oil imports. It’s one of the few sulphur-free petroleum sources in the world, outside of Libya.

MR. PICKERING: It’s one in which, in the UN Pres Conference, you said it’s potentially a very important country in Africa.

MR. SISCO: The word was “decisive.”

SECRETARY KISSINGER: I know! (Laughter.)

MR. SISCO: But that’s only because no one from [Page 5] Ghana was present! (Laughter.)

MR. NEWSOM: That’s our case, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KISSINGER: Yes; but the one thing—I guess I’m sort of lost at the UN now; but I can’t be used, you know, for the glory of Bureaus and the Country Directors because I’ll never get any work done if I see every Foreign Minister who comes to the United States and every Ambassador that wants to see me. And I really would like to see that as much as possible is given to the Deputy Secretary, who has a particularly deft way with this! (Laughter.)

MR. NEWSOM: I think time will bear out, Mr. Secretary, that we have made very, very few strong pleas from the African Bureau and this is one that we think is of critical importance in our relations with them -in the Congress.

[Omitted here are portions of the discussion unrelated to Nigeria.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 1, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret.
  2. Newsom noted the failure to agree on a date and time for the Nixon-Gowon meeting and strongly supported making some accommodation with the Nigerians.