Department of State
ACTION: SecState WASHDC PRIORITY
EYES ONLY ASST. SECERETARY EASUM FROM AMBASSADOR
1. Prior to my departure Washington Feb. 15, I discussed status of Mobutu's request to purchase 1,000 M-16 rifles. I understood prospects were good GOZ request would be approved. From all information available to us here, unless US agrees to this sales, GOZ will acquire AK-47s from Chinese. Both from our point of view and Portugal's it would seem infinitely preferable to have US furnish limited number of M-16s (with end user safeguards) than to have GOZ turn to Chinese with all that this implies.
2. Mobutu now scheduled return Zaire March 6 and I hope to see him very soon thereafter. It would assist greatly in allaying anticipated complaints re our inability/refusal to sell Zaire other sophisticated military equipment if I could inform Mobutu at that time that USG has approved sale of M-16s. I strongly recommend such action.
3. Please advise.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Papers of Sheldon B. Vance, 1967-1976, Box 4, TELS - Amb. Vance - 1974. Secret; Priority; Eyes Only. Drafted by DCM Michael H. Newlin; cleared by Col. Neilond, DAO, Col. Mallet, Zamish; and approved by Vance.↩
- Ambassador Vance strongly recommended to Assistant Secretary Easum that the United States approve the sale of M-16s to Zaire.↩