214. Telegram 192690 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Nigeria 1 2

Subject:

  • Nigerian Commissioner for External Affairs Meeting With Secretary, July 30

1. Summary: July 30 Nigerian Commissioner for External Affairs Garba met with the Secretary in Washington. Meeting had been arranged at Garba’s request. During the meeting Garba sought the Secretary’s views on the situations in eastern and southern Africa, Angola, and Guyana. He emphasized Nigeria’s desire to “normalize” relations with the US and to consult regularly, particularly on African matters. The following main points are summarized in the order raised. End summary.

2. Secretary’s visit. Garba expressed his regret that the Secretary could not visit Nigeria in the course of his African trip, and explained that the “mood of the country” had made it impossible. Garba also disclaimed responsibility for cancellation of the Secretary’s visit to Accra. Garba said he had gone to Accra, explained why the Secretary was not visiting Lagos, and outlined the subjects the Nigerians thought the Ghanaians should raise with the Secretary.

3. Diplomatic travel. The Secretary emphasized his desire to improve relations between the US and Africa, but noted that this required reciprocity. He said we have no complaints about our bilateral relations that he was aware of. Ambassador Schaufele noted that diplomats were not permitted to travel outside Lagos. The Secretary commented that this was not directed specifically against the US but was a general ban. Garba said Nigeria plans to lift the ban very soon and pointed out that he had authorized the familiarization travel in Nigeria of a new member of the Nigerian desk. (Kott.)

4. Southern Africa: Garba said he had not seen any progress in the implementation of the Secretary’s Lusaka speech. The Secretary replied that progress was being made. The US purpose is to produce black rule in Rhodesia, a result that would also help the situation in Namibia. The Secretary referred to the visits of Schaufele and Scranton to Africa and his own meeting with Vorster. Garba said that with regard to the Vorster meeting the FMG had instructed the Nigerian press not to comment, and that there had been no criticism of the meeting in the Nigerian media. He asked for a report on the meeting. The Secretary said we had told Vorster we were going to bring about progress in Zimbabwe and Namibia and that if South Africa is truly an African country it ought to cooperate. The Secretary continued that we are also talking with the four Front-Line Presidents (Nyerere, Machel, Kaunda, and Khama) and the British. He noted that the easiest way to handle the problem is for the British to implement the proposals the then Foreign Secretary (Callaghan) made at the end of March. Following discussions with the British the US will talk to the first-line [Front-Line] Presidents. Among other things, the US does not want different countries backing different movements in Zimbabwe. In response to Garba’s question about a possible military intervention by the British, the Secretary said we think it a bad idea for any European power to go into Zimbabwe with military force, and that the preferable course of action is to work on and through South Africa. With regard to Namibia, the Secretary said he wished to see SWAPO involved but that SWAPO could not expect to be the only representative of the Namibian people. Garba raised Zambia and said he understood that South Africa was trying to bring down Kaunda, to which the Secretary replied that the US is unqualifiedly behind Kaunda, would inform Kaunda of any reports we received of threats to his government, and would try to stop such threats from being carried out.

5. East Africa. Garba raised East Africa and claimed that Kenya is blockading Uganda, to which the Secretary replied that Amin was threatening to attack Kenya. Again in response to Garba’s question the Secretary said we have supplied relatively small amounts of military aid to Kenya, but only because both Somalia and Uganda have laid claim to parts of Kenya. He emphasized that the US has no interest in a blockade of Uganda and offered to discuss the point with the Kenyan Government. In response to Garba’s question, the Secretary denied that the US was involved in a “conspiracy” with other countries to bring down Amin.

6. Angola. Garba raised Angola and said that in his view the US should “make a gesture to the Angolans.” The Secretary replied that he had gone on record as willing to talk to the Angolans. He had even considered asking Nigeria to arrange a meeting with them in Lagos. He had expected to see a reduction in the level of Cuban troops in Angola following the Cuban message to this effect conveyed to the US through Sweden. Two factors had intervened since then, the vote on Angolan membership in the UN, and the execution of Hearhart. He noted that we had made it clear to the Angolans that if they waited we would not oppose their membership in the UN. They ignored our advice and brought about a confrontation with the US. Garba said the Nigerians had urged Angola not to push their UN application. Garba said that when he saw Castro in Cuba in June, the latter had said he wished to get his troops out of Angola if only because it was costing Cuba too much. The Secretary concluded that we have no evidence that the troops are being reduced in number.

7. Guyana. Garba said that when he was in Guyana in June he had been told the US was aiding Surinam militarily while denying Guyana the opportunity to buy weapons in the US. The Secretary explained that Surinam had been placed on a list of those eligible to receive US equipment (FMS) only because the Dutch wished to transfer some former US helicopters to the Surinam Government. Guyana had been told it would be difficult to get permission to buy arms on concessional terms from the US because of congressional opposition to expanding overseas arms sales.

8. US-Nigerian relations. Garba emphasized that the FMG wishes to “normalize” US-Nigerian relations. He asked that the US consult regularly with Nigeria, particularly on African problems. The Secretary replied that Nigeria is the critical country in Africa and noted that the coolness in US-Nigerian relations had come from the Nigerian side. Garba agreed. The Secretary continued that we are prepared to consult and cooperate and take account of Nigeria’s specific problems. He invited garba to lunch or dinner in Washington when the latter comes to New York for the General Assembly. Garba emphasized that both the Secretary and Schaufele would be welcome in Lagos.

9. Nigerian-Zaire relations. Garba said Nigeria is trying to “warm up our relations with Zaire”, and in response to the Secretary’s offer agreed that it would be useful if the US conveyed to Mobutu its support for this effort.

10. Nigerian nuclear reactor. Garba said he had been authorized by the Nigerian head of state to inform the Secretary that Nigeria is seeking to buy a nuclear reactor from Germany to provide power for Nigeria’s steel mill.

11. Comment: The meeting was characterized by warmth and cordiality on both sides. The meeting was attended by Garba, Nigerian Ambassador to Washington Sanu, Nigerian DCM Obe, and Garba’s Special Assistant Dede. On the US side in addition to the Secretary were Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Schaufele and AF/W Director.

Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1976. Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by Thomas W.M. Smith (AF/W), cleared in S, approved by Schaufele.
  2. The telegram reported that Secretary of State Kissinger and Kenyan Ambassador Garba discussed U.S.-Nigerian relations, Eastern and Southern Africa, Angola, and Guyana. Garba said Nigeria wanted to “normalize” relations with the United States.