278. Telegram 5605 From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State 1 2

For the Secretary from Vance


  • Breakfast With Mobutu

1. Two-hour breakfast meeting with Mobutu this morning (June 23) was friendly throughout and he asked me to meet with him again tonight at 6:30.

2. After he greeted me warmly, I told Mobutu that he Secretary had asked me to come to Kinshasa for the following purposes:

To find out from Mobutu what was troubling him, leading to his accusations about coup plotting.
To stress importance we attach to Zaire and Mobutu.
To convey our desire to wrok with him, providing he wished it.
To stress the importance of Angola in the Secretary’s mind and his desire to have Mobutu’s analysis and policy plans. I explained that we could not, of course, be sure of what we might decide to do about Angola but that the Secretary wished to have his frank views as soon as possible.

3. Mobutu then gave me a long, detailed description of the factors which had led him, as he said quote with great sadness unqte, to conclude that there had not only been coup plotting by Zairians but that official Americans were implicated (he appears fully to believe it). He said he wanted to commence this part of our discussion with the statement that although he would not be able to forget, he had already decided to pardon, because our relations have been so very close and the US has been by far most important helper of Zaire since independence. (I will report details of this subject septel.)

4. Regarding Angola, Mobutu made the following points: (1) he and the Portuguese Government had reached an understanding that it would not go out of its way to help Agustinho Neto and he would similarly restrain himself with regard to Holden Roberto in the hope that the Angolan parties would work things out among themselves.

(2) However, arms and money from the Soviet Union and even from Yugoslavia were pouring in for Neto through Brazzaville and directly into Angola. The only help Roberto has received of any consequence has come from Zaire and the PRC, and Zaire’s stocks of weapons are low and money currently very scarce while communist China is a long way off.

(3) Roberto has fifteen thousand men in Zaire and others in Angola, but they are not adequately equipped certainly not comparably with those of Neto.

4) Under today’s circumstances it is obvious that the US cannot help directly; but it is known that the US has helped Zaire militarily and that Zaire has helped Roberto, so the modalities of our possible assistance are clearly indicated.

(5) It is not too late to act because the parties have until November 11, but time is running out very rapidly. He siad it would be very grave for Zaire if Soviets controlled Angola, as they would if Neto became the master of the country.

(6) With regard to Savimbi, Mobutu thought he might prove to be the man to back for the presidency as neither Neto nor Roberto would accept each other and each is being pushed towards extremism as the struggle develops. Savimbi, on the other hand, has so far been able to stay in the middle. Mobutu hopes to avoid or minimize bloodshed.

(7) He wants us to know that he began recently to give Savimbi some help. Thus far $30 thousand in cash, adding that Savimbi also should be given arms and more money and this too can be via Zaire.

(8) What is need urgently are M–16 rifles, mobile artillery, ammunition, and money.

5. Mobutu indicated that he would think about the Angolan question some more and continue the discussion this evening.

6. Mobutu then turned to his own financial problems, which reported septel.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1975. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee. In telegram 5619 from Kinshasa, June 23, Vance provided details from Mobutu about the alleged involvement of the United States in the coup plot. (Ibid.) Vance then held two more meetings with Mobutu, as reported in telegram 5641 from Kinshasa, June 24 (ibid.), and telegram 5775 from Kinshasa, June 26. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Africa, Box 7, Zaire, State Department Telegrams to SECSTATE— NODIS, 8/9/74–7/31/75)
  2. Ambassador Vance in Kinshasa reported to Secretary Kissinger on his first meeting with Mobutu and their discussion about coup allegations and Angola.