261. Telegram 1948 From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1 2

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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.

Vance
  1. 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.
  2. Ambassador Vance strongly recommended to Assistant Secretary Easum that the United States approve the sale of M–16s to Zaire.