281. Telegram 6877 From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1 2


  • Vance Mission: Fourth Meeting With Mobutu July 23


  • State 172996

1. Following receipt reftel, I telephoned Mobutu and arranged to see him again evening July 23. He invited me to stay for dinner with the family, following which we had most useful talk on status of our joint planning for assistance to Angola.

2. I told Mobutu that we had reviewed and forwarded to Washington the list of equipment replacement requirements given US by his generals as well as the categories of equipment they had designated as being most urgently needed. I said I had this morning received instruction reiterating the need to put together a program not to exceed $6 million, although we did not exclude the possibility of some additional assistance now. In explaining this limitation I observed that our ability to help was subject to certain obvious considerations, notably the limitation on funds available, the cost and time required for shipment, and the risk of leaks that arises if large quantities of materiel are sent all at once. I stressed the importance of the last point, noting the need to move in such a way [Page 2] as to avoid exposure, which could seriously harm our efforts to help. Mobutu said he understood these considerations, but that he considered that much less than the equipment from five of his para-battalions (four for Roberto and one for Savimbi) would not rpt not redress the balance. He also reiterated his hope that the items already sent Angola from his mobilization reserve as well as the key items from his paratroops which we cannot supply in the present emergency program would be replaced subsequently.

3. I said it was important that I provide Washington with as precise a view as possible of his order of priorities within the broad priority categories of equipment his generals had given us. On his instruction, it is clear. This so we could determine the most useful types of assistance both for a $6 million program and for any aid we might be able to provide above that. I then reviewed with Mobutu the list provided by the generals and he indicated how he would refine his relative priorities. his most urgent need remains 5,000 M–16 rifles with one–two months ammunition, all of which he hopes can be air shipped to Zaire as soon as possible. His second priority is anti-tank guns to replace more than has already been shipped south to counter the Soviet-supplied armored vehicles he said were having devastating effect on the FNLA. Mobutu went on to designate a number of other priority requirements from the list and indicated which should be shipped by air and which by sea. We have incorporated his views both in a $5 million package and in a larger package which we have developed as requested reftel and are sending by separate telegrams [text not declassified].

4. In discussing Zairian military aid to Angola, I took the occasion to remind Mobutu about US restrictions on the transfer from one country to another of equipment (I had in mind his paratroopers have some old MAP equipment.) supplied under MAP. Mobutu said he understood this and reiterated his assurance that no US materiel, no matter how old it might be, would be sent to Angola.

5. [text not declassified] In this [Page 3] regard, Mobutu said he had Amin’s assurance that, as Chairman of the forthcoming OAU summit, he would see to it that the Soviets are appropriately taken to task at the meeting for their intervention in Angola. Mobutu intends also to work behind the scenes there to encourage other such criticism.

6. Mobutu did not have much news from Angola. However, he was concerned by reports that two more Soviet vessels have delivered military equipment to the MPLA. I noted reports I had seen recently reflecting adversely on the conduct of certain FNLA officials and troops in Luanda. Mobutu acknowledged this has been a problem, and said he would admonish Roberto again on this matter.

7. I told Mobutu that I intended to return Washington July 25 and would press for earliest possible decision. Mobutu reiterated need for urgent action. “The Soviets are continuing to send arms into Angola,” he said, “while we are sitting here talking.”

8. Recommendation: As noted para 3, we are sending separately the composition of two possible packages: one which meets the current $6 million ceiling, and the other which incorporates Mobutu’s most urgent minimum requirements and, according our rough estimates, amounts to $10 to $12 million. I wish to make clear Mobutu would not rpt not regard what we could send under the $6 million program as enough to redress the balance in Angola. As it is important that we start to move just as soon as possible, I urge that Washington agencies give top priority to final reviewing and costing out of both packages to permit a decision in the next few days on what can be our highest level. I urge that the decision be in favor of a larger than six million dollar program so that we will have a real impact on Angolan situation.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Joseph Sisco, 1951–1976, Entry 5405, Box 22, Angola. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee.
  2. Ambassador Vance summarized his discussion with President Mobutu regarding military assistance. Vance added that Mobutu did not regard offered U.S. assistance as adequate to the situation.