205. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • Nigeria
    • H.E. Dr. Okoi Arikpo, Commissioner
    • for External Affairs
    • H.E. John Garba, Ambassador
    • Mr. Oluyemi Adeniji, MEA Staff
    • Commissioner’s Personal Secretary Aneh
  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • Assistant Scretary Donald Easum
    • AF/W Director John L. Loughran
    • NSC Staff Harold E. Horan


  • Secretary’s Bilateral Meeting with Commissioner for External Affairs Arikpo

Following the usual amenities conversation commenced.

Arikpo: I am sorry I couldn’t come to your luncheon.

Kissinger: You missed an eloquent speech by the Foreign Minister of Uganda. We don’t even have diplomatic relations with Uganda. I told her that if her President would stop sending messages we could see what we could do.

Arikpo: He writes everybody.

Kissinger: When President Nixon was in office he would write the President advising him of his Watergate crimes. In one letter he said he was asking the Soviet Union and China to declare war on us.

Ambassador Garba: interrupted to say Amin used to send telegrams to the Queen of England asking her to make planes available to take him to various conferences.

Kissinger: He visited one neighboring country and asked the local radio station to broadcast his dreams.

[Page 2]

Nigerian-US Bilateral Relations

Kissinger: Our bilateral relationship is in good shape. We still hope your President will visit the United States at some point, perhaps next year.

Arikpo: The President’s message to General Gowon certainly implied that.

Kissinger: Should we extend a formal invitation and if so would it be accepted?

Arikpo: Yes, and it would be accepted. On the occasion of the first invitation political difficulties made it difficult for General Gowon to visit the United States but I am sure the Head of State will be able to arrange a visit in 1975. We will arrange it.

Kissinger: We will talk to our President and I am sure he will approve.

Arikpo: On bilateral issues we have no problem.

Kissinger: It is always inevitable that we will have some disagreements, but fortunately you have never pushed these too far. I can’t think of any bilateral problems other than perhaps the question of the C–130s. I don’t know why the developing countries want to be developed. The moment you do, you build bureaucracies which limit your ability to manuever.

Easum: The problem on the C–130s was that Lockheed could provide them to you faster through commercial rather than an FMS sale.

Ambassador Garba: We have decided to negotiate a commercial sale between our Air Force and Lockheed.

Easum: The goodwill is there but our Defense Department had trouble putting its hands on planes already in the FMS pipeline.

Kissinger: Even for cash?

Easum: Yes.

Arikpo: You cannot upset your internal defense acquisitions. [Page 3] Your schedule must be a crowded one.

Kissinger: I am seeing very many Foreign Ministers these days but I assure you that it is a pleasure to meet with one who doesn’t want anything. The Greeks started anti-American riots and paraded signs against me in the streets, now they come requesting help.

Arikpo: We have our problems too— particularly our boundary with the Cameroons. The basic problem is that the demarcation line between our two countries is a water boundary which in turn is dependent upon the position of a channel. This was dredged in the pre-independent period by the British. The problem is further complicated since both sides may use the channel. Additional difficulties result from current French oil prospecting in the area.

United Nations Issues

Easum: What other issues are there?

Arikpo: First there are the African problems, South Africa being our main concern, second, the question of Namibia, third, the Byrd Amendment, and, finally, the whole problem of oil and commodity prices.

Kissinger: You are very naughty.

Arikpo: I would be interested to hear what you have to say on these four subjects. On the first, we believe the United States can assert much more pressure on South Africa to change. In our view the best solution is one negotiated by the African people concerned. Nigeria does not think it is in the long term interest of South Africa to delay the eventual change. You can help by pressuring them in some form.

Kissinger: In principle we are opposed to the policy of apartheid in South Africa and have said so on many many occasions, and we will continue to say so. What the United States can do in any one year is unclear. We have a problem of maintaining a level of influence but we agree with you that there must be equality for all human beings.

Arikpo: What do you think about imposing UN sanctions on South Africa particularly in the trade field?

Kissinger: I don’t know if sanctions would move South Africa. Basically we believe the policy of apartheid is wrong. But, I question how effective any UN sanctions could be when in effect they [Page 4] would be an intervention in a domestic South African problem. Rhodesia was a special case. It is not recognized as a sovereign state and never was. With this in mind do you think we should really pass a UN resolution on a domestic South African issue? For example, if the UN passed a resolution on a US domestic problem such an action would have catastrophic results for our country. Namibia is a difficult case as it is not South Africa and we are willing to discuss it within the jurisdiction of the UN. We face sanctions all the time. Domestically, we are facing them in regard to our aid to Turkey.

Arikpo: You are quite right. If you look at Namibia as a purely domestic problem. However, we see this as a world moral problem. You can show disapproval.

Kissinger: If you show your disapproval in the human rights context I agree, but doing it in the security council is another matter. We have to talk seriously of getting the UN involved. You can always say something is a moral problem and make the UN a party to a domestic dispute. That Biafra was not a world problem was your position.

As far as we are concerned apartheid is wrong and politically short-sighted and South Africa must come to terms with the rest of Africa and we agree with this. But, in my personal opinion, you want to move too fast. Issues such as these have their own logic and their own pace. I recall that I used to tell my Arab friends -and I used the example of Portugal—that I was absolutely convinced, as with the French and British African decolonization, that there would be a long period of discussion followed by rapid movement. But South Africa is a special case. You must recall that the Boers fought the whole British empire for years and I think they still have an untenable system. It is inconceivable that Africa is organized one way and South Africa organized on the basis of discrimination against black people. I do believe that pressure should be maintained on this issue.

Arikpo: I share your view and I will add that it is up to the United States, France and Great Britain to keep this issue constantly before the world.

Kissinger: I hope we can stay in close touch with you on this question.

Arikpo: Nigeria is concerned that the outcome of the Namibian question may depart from the UN resolution.

[Page 5]

Kissinger: How many whites are there in Namibia?

Easum: There are 100,000 whites and 600,000 blacks.

Kissinger: I knew how many blacks there are.

Arikpo: You can help on this issue.

Kissinger: In concrete terms, what do you want us to do to transfer power to the majority? Will this come up as a resolution in the current session?

Arikpo: The current situation as I see it is that people are saying let’s wait and see the outcome of current UN discussions. I am concerned that the outcome may be disastrous for Africa.

Kissinger: As far as the United States is concerned I can assure you that we are not doing anything to encourage a departure from the UN resolution.

Speaking of UN issues, we are particularly concerned about the Cambodia and Korean questions. These are important for us and, if I may be frank, we cannot always support the concerns of others when others do not support us on questions we believe important. Now on the question of Cambodia we are not asking for your support of our view but we are asking for a year’s delay and I hope that you and your African colleagues will discuss this favorably.

On the Korean issue we may work something out. We want new legal arrangements to replace the existing ones and hope that you can keep an open mind on this subject.

Aripko: I can assure you that we will and we hope that an equitable agreement can be arranged between both parties.

Kissinger: When I was negotiating the Viet-Nam settlement the North Vietnamese took their position and would not compromise until the last 30 seconds. Le Duc Tho said to me, “Let me speak to you frankly, open-heartedly and honestly: you are a liar.” He always tried to provoke me.

Arikpo: I assure you we will keep an open mind.

Kissinger: We will stay in touch with you on these matters. I will have Scali keep in touch with your representatives.

Arikpo: Finally, on the question of oil, what should we do?

[Page 6]

Kissinger: Lower prices!

Arikpo: That is not too difficult to do.

Kissinger: Essentially the world wide problem is that if inflation continues, prices on other commodities will rise as rapidly as oil prices. We don’t want a confrontation with the oil producers. And I want to emphasize that the President’s and my speech to the UN did not imply any military confrontation. What we want is a dialogue with the oil producing countries. We realize that in the past oil prices were too low. Now they are too high and if they continue I don’t know of any solution for the economies of the world. Take Italy for example, it cannot pay for its oil. Whether we pay for it out of oil producing countries profit through loans or by inflation—which means worthless money—one way or another someone has to pay. The United States wants to resolve the problem on a rational basis. Take the case of our economic assistance programs. It is almost impossible to obtain Congressional approval for aid. Our Congressmen are saying that the oil producers should give the aid. This has great disadvantes for the less developed countries.

Aripko: We have not engaged in any confrontation.

Kissinger: That is correct. Nigeria has followed but it has not taken the lead among oil producers.

Arikpo: It is not a question of following or leading. Nigerians say there is a possible way out as a result of the extraordinary UNGA Spring session. One cannot look at the price of just one commodity; we must look at a whole range of commodities. Secondly, there is the very serious problem of the price increases of manufactured goods. The less developed countries have to bear the burden of these price increases. Particularly those of us who try to develop our own sophisticated economies. If it were possible to look at this problem in terms of equalization of prices of manufactured goods and raw materials, and if governments of industrialized states would try to bring down prices of their manufactured goods relative to oil, it could work.

Kissinger: This is a vicious circle. You raise oil prices we raise our prices. Oil prices have risen seven times as fast relative to manufactured goods price increases and this places a disproportionate burden on the world economy and particularly the industrialized nations who require oil for their production. In the long term oil producers will lose, in the near term there is the possibility of serious political dislocations. We are not worried about Nigeria.

[Page 7]

Arikpo: If the UN system had tackled the question of relative prices…

Kissinger: Yes, but prices couldn’t wait. The Shah of Iran made this point. We are prepared as users to meet with the producers. At the same time I must point out that the United States at the end of this decade will be able to solve the problem unilaterally.

I have never been to an independent African country before. Maybe I can go next year.

Ambassador Garba: You were going to ask about the Byrd Amendment.

Kissinger: We support repeal of the Byrd Amendment. My instinct is that it will be repealed after the elections, either at the current Congressional session or at the next session. The President and I have spoken in favor of repeal. I have talked to Congressional leaders about it. Some Congressmen don’t want to take a stand before the elections.

Easum: My understanding is that the House will take up the matter after the elections but during this session. Briefings will be conducted by the White House.

Kissinger: That is my understanding exactly.

Arikpo: Thank you. I hope you will come to Nigeria.

Kissinger: I hope to be able to come. I can’t think creatively about a country without being able to see street scenes in my mind.

Meeting ended. 12:30 p.m.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 272, Memoranda of Conversations. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s Suite at the Waldorf Hotel, during the Secretary’s trip to the United Nations. The Byrd Amendment exempted Rhodesian chrome and other metals from U.S. import restrictions imposed in support of a UN boycott against the Government of Rhodesia. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, pp. 831, 857) Ford extended an invitation to Gowon for a State Visit in 1975 in telegram 255295 to Lagos, November 19. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 5, Nigeria, State Department Telegrams from SECSTATE)
  2. Secretary of State Kissinger and Commissioner Arikpo reviewed the status of U.S.-Nigerian relations and other African issues in the United Nations.