- Military Assistance for Zaire
1. I have been informed that Mobutu plans to leave Zaire on Thursday, October 21, for a rest in Europe. He could be out of country for as long as a month.
2. I think it is important that we get some word to Mobutu before he leaves regarding the status of our military assistance plans. In accordance with discussions during the Secretary’s last visit here, Mobutu has reason to expect some early word from us and the visit of a military team to Zaire sometime in October. While Mobutu has not raised this matter with me directly, his top military adviser, General Babia, has queried ZAMISH Chief on where matters stand.
3. As the Department is aware, Mobutu has continued to express publicly his support of United States’ efforts on Southern Africa, most recently during his visits to several West African states last week. While I am sure he appreciates our keeping in close consultation with him on these policy issues, it is equally clear that he expects to see progress on bilateral issues and on security assistance in particular.
4. While it may now be too late to get a military team to Zaire this month (and Mobutu may not want them to come while he is absent), I would hope that at a minimum we can give Mobutu some indication of forward movement. If we can, I will need guidance right away in view of his imminent departure.
5. The need to show progress on the military front is heightened by what I have just learned from the ExIm team which is here to negotiate the Inga-Shaba overrun financing and the $20 million loan to Gecamines. It seems that Gecamines has decided to turn down our loan on the grounds that ExIm’s conditions are too onerous and because ExIm has taken too long to come up with the money. This loan was part of the $60 million financial assistance we promised Mobutu in June of 1975. I will report further as details become available, but the fact that this loan is apparently not going through could well disturb our overall relationship with Zaire.