Washington, April 12, 1975, 0205Z
- Secretary’s Meeting With the African Chiefs of Mission
Inform Consuls. London for Haverkamp; Paris for Melone
- Summary: The Secretary met with the African Chiefs of Mission April 8 to discuss US-African relations. The meeting gave the African Ambassadors an opportunity to raise what they consider Africa’s urgent problems and to suggest ways in which they thought US-African relations might be improved. The Secretary thanked the Africans for their frank and constructive expression of views and promised to study their suggestions. The Secretary commented on the more important matters raised by the Ambassadors, particularly Southern African and economic issues. The atmosphere of the meeting was cordial. The Secretary said he found the meeting extremely useful, and told the Ambassadors that he would like to have such meetings periodically in the future. End summary.
- In preparation for the meeting, the Africans had caucused for six hours on the previous Saturday to work out common approach and establish agreed-upon positions. The caucus decided to have one spokesman—the Acting Dean of the African group, Mauritian Ambassador Balancy—[Page 2]present their views rather than all of them trying to speak. We were told privately that this decision was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to prevent some of the more radical Chiefs of Mission from making acrimonious remarks which might turn the meeting into a confrontation rather than a productive discussion.
- In opening the discussion the Secretary emphasized once again that Assistant Secretary Davis “has my full confidence and that he was put in this job in order to improve relations between Africa and the United States.” The Secretary affirmed that it was our intention to improve relations and promised that “it will not fail for lack of effort on our side.”
- Speaking on behalf of the whole group, Ambassador Balancy thanked the Secretary
for having received then and made the following points:
- —US African policy: Africans had been waiting for a statement of global American foreign policy for Africa since 1969, when President Nixon promised such a statement, and hoped that US would take “new position for meaningful partnership” with Africa.
- —Rhodesia: US “should take initiative to bring peaceful solution to that problem.” Africans believe there is possibility of peaceful solution based on majority rule. They believe observance of economic sanctions is very important at this crucial stage and hope that Secretary will continue campaign for repeal of Byrd Amendment. (Apparently reflecting something of a misunderstanding of the situation, Ambassador Balancy referred to US “investments” and “interests” in Rhodesia.)
- —South Africa: African governments want reassurance on US policy on apartheid and feel that changes in Southern Africa “call for clear united states policy toward South Africa.” Africans want US support for Security Council decision on Namibia and hope that we and our allies will not enter into any defense arrangements with South Africa, which they feel would constitute [Page 3]“threat to world peace and security.” Africans also feel that the United States should accept principle of keeping Africa a nuclear free zone. (Posts will recall that we voted for UN resolution on Africa NFZ during last fall’s UNGA.) Africans would like USG encourage American investors divert their investments from South Africa and take advantage of opportunities in independent African states. USG also encouraged to urge American firms in South Africa to use fair employment practices.
- —Former Portuguese territories: Africans feel that US policy toward these nations is not clear. They think that it is time for the US “to assure these countries of its friendship and assistance.”
- —Middle East: Africans cannot accept continued occupation of territories of “some of our sister countries which they feel constitutes threat to peace in that area. Africans expressed support of Secretary’s peace initiative and expressed wish “that finally you will be able to arrange for peaceful solution in Middle East.”
- —Indian Ocean: Africans feel expansion of bases in Indian Ocean constitutes threat to littoral states. Africa hopes that US will support efforts of these states to keep Indian Ocean free of conflict.”
- —Aid: Africans have observed that US official development assistance has decreased considerably over last three years. Balancy said that “more regretable still” is fact that Africa’s share of total US aid is smallest of all regions.
- —Trade: Africans welcome recent measures of 1974 Trade Act but point out that many countries are at such a low level of industrialization that they cannot take advantage of the generalized preference scheme. They would like “accelerated action under auspices of GATT and UNCTAD to guarantee access to markets for primary products and to stabilize earnings from these products.”
- —African Development Bank: Although US was one of parties to original agreement creating AFDB funds, US has not so far made a contribution. They hope that the [Page 4]Secretary will “try your best to convince Congress to at least vote a contribution” this year.
- Balancy said that he and his colleagues had come with great expectations. Having heard Secretary admit at Mr. Davis’ swearing-in that “so far Africa had been neglected,” Ambassadors hoped to hear at this meeting indications of new approach to policy toward Africa.” Balancy said Africans are “looking forward to a long-term relationship based on mutual respect, maturity and vision, rather than one based on expediency and short-term interest.”
- The Secretary agreed that we should meet more regularly with group
and said that one of Mr. Davis’ obligations would be to arrange periodic
meetings of the group with him. The Secretary replied as follows on
specific issues raised by Ambassador Balancy:
- —Rhodesia: US will continue to support repeal of Byrd Amendment and hopes that in this session we will be successful. Secretary stressed this will be his policy and policy of the administration. Secretary said further that US “will use its influence to bring about political solution in Rhodesia more consistent with democratic principles than the one that now exists.” He said that he had been in close touch with Foreign Secretary Callaghan and said that we are “supporting his efforts and we hope that a positive result can come about.”
- —South Africa: Secretary said “there is no possibility whatever of US making a defense arrangement with South Africa.” Secretary declared that American companies in South Africa should follow American principles rather than South African principles and “we do not accept principle of apartheid as a valid American principle.” Secretary said that as long as American companies were in South Africa and insofar as we have any influence on them “it will be in the direction of no discrimination based on race”.
- —Middle East: US supports just peace in Middle East and will not accept a stalemate. Which methods we will use, whether intermediate solution or total solution “depends on what is possible at the moment”. He reiterated US would accept no stalemate in the Middle [Page 5]East and asked that “all our Arab friends here and their friends there should accept that proposition as fact.”
- —Indian Ocean zone of peace: Secretary commented that “without wanting to be offensive to some of the ambassadors”. US was aware of Soviet military installations in some countries bordering on Indian Ocean. As long, he said, as Soviet Union has military installations in area, the US “will try to preserve a position to protect its interests.” The US has no intention of turning Indian Ocean into major area of confrontation, and our military deployments are not directed against the continent of Africa by any means.
- —Former Portuguese territories: US attitude is one of intending to be helpful and welcoming these nations into a the community of nations and to play, to maximum extent possible, a constructive role. Secretary cautioned that mood of Congress made it difficult to get foreign aid monies at the moment.
- —US private investment: Secretary noted that many countries object to private American investment on ideological grounds and said that we failed to understand why a country fear American private interest and not be worried about US Government aid. He said he would have thought that the United States would be more powerful in carrying out its wishes than private corporations would be. He said that, in any case, the easier way of getting resources was through private capital and we feel that many developing countries were not taking sufficient advantage of this possibility.
- —US African policy: Secretary acknowledged that Africa “hasn’t had the highest priority with American foreign policy” but said that it would not be easy to define what we might have done had we given it a higher priority, given the great size, number of countries, and diversity of interests existing in Africa. Africa was, the Secretary stressed, “really a complicated matter for US”, and he said that this sort of dialogue is helpful” in enabling us to define what we can do in Africa.
- —LDC/DC confrontation: Problem of development and interdependence between poorer countries and the industrialized nations is one of key problems of our period. It is ironical that time when old military blocs are losing some of their significance, the LDCs are more and more forming blocs of their own that tend to create “an almost institutional pattern of confrontation.” Secretary said “it is absolutely intolerable” for US to be castigated by LDCs as at recent meeting of non-aligned in Havana and at the same time “be asked to work out a cooperative relationship.” US would like to work out genuinely cooperative relationship on raw materials and related problems. Secretary noted that Africans had to “defend yourselves against precipitous fluctuations which put your economies totally at the mercy of forces over which you have no control” and said that these were matters we were prepared to discuss.
- In concluding his reply, the Secretary offered other Ambassadors opportunity to talk if they wished.
- Ambassador Quarm of Ghana pointed out that perhaps one reason the Secretary and other US officials found it hard to understand African problems was the difficulty that visiting Foreign Ministers or Presidents had in getting access to the Secretary and other highest level US officials. The Secretary agreed they should have ABCE access and promised to receive them personally in Washington whenever possible and in any case to ensure they be received at an appropriate level.
- Charge Gabriel Farngalo of Liberia congratulated the Secretary for his wonderful response to our problems.” We look forward, he said, to a good relationship between America and the African continent. The Secretary called Mr. Farngalo’s comment “a very generous statement” and said that he appreciated it very much.
- Ambassador Mwale of Zambia pointed out the importance of the United States making timely expressions of support on African matters. He referred specifically to Mozambique and Angola and suggested that the United States ought to issue a strong statement welcoming the independence [Page 7]of the Portuguese territories and offering our assistance. The Secretary agreed and indicated that such a statement would be prepared.
- Ambassador [garble] of Cameroon noted that the Africans considered the United States to be the greatest power in the world in a material sense and declared that Africa expects from the United States in regard to their (Africa’s) important problems moral leadership also.” This, he said, would be important even if there were no material assistance to go along with it. The Secretary expressed sympathy with this point of view. In closing he reiterated his appreciation for the “generosity with which you have received me and received Ambassador Davis” and declared “we will understand each other better, and I am positive that we can make definite progress during the course of this year.”
- Source: National Archives, RG 84, Ethiopia Embassy Files: Lot 77 F 121, OAU Relations with the United States. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. Repeated priority to USUN, and to London and Paris.↩
- The Department reported on the April 8 meeting between Kissinger and African ambassadors in which an exchange of views on U.S.-African relations took place.↩