61. Telegram 122179 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Burundi1 2


  • Burundi Ambassador Conversation with Asst. Sec. Newsom
Burundi Amb. Ndabaniwe came in for a meeting with Asst. Sec. Newsom concerning U.S. initiatives toward African leaders with regard to problems in Burundi. He said he felt he was not fully informed on US policy and activities with regard to Burundi and wished a full, frank and open discussion. Mr. Newsom said that we were in contact with his government through our Embassy in Bujumbura and felt that the GRB was well informed on our position. We would keep him informed and maintain frank and open relationship with him.
The discussion was very frank concerning US policy and feeling with regard to events in Burundi last year and the recently reported events. Mr. Newsom said that relations between the US and Burundi could not improve until the GRB ceased indescriminate killing and began a program on national reconciliation. Mr. Newsom stated that the USG was approaching African leaders on the problem because their continued inaction reflected on Africa as a whole. He said the GRB should seek outside asistance if it could not itself resolve the problem.
In the conversation, Mr. Newsom made the following points:
He said we’re very aware of the complexity of problems in Burundi but that did not excuse what was taking place.
He said we were aware of what was going on in Burundi with regard to killings by the JRR and the army. There were too many reports from too many sources for them to be denied.
Many countries in Africa have had problems but only Burundi resorted to massive slaughter in reprisal.
The GRB must admit they have a problem and quit denying what has happened as such denial only serves to further discredit the GRB and preclude any constructive steps by it.
GRB should invite in outside observers to help prevent outside incursions and to tell its side of the story. He cited recent refusals of visas to journalists.
African inaction toward actions such have taken place in Burundi are giving all of Africa a bad name in the US and hurting our efforts to deal with problems elsewhere in Africa.
The USG is and will continue to encourage African leadership to pay attention to Burundi just as they do to injustice white ruled Southern Africa for to fail to do so lessens their credibility and integrity as African leaders.
Genocide by anyone in Africa is still genocide and must be condemned as such by all African leaders.
Comment: During the conversation the Burundi Ambassador continued to place the blame for the strife in Burundi on foreign elements and dissidents. He said that the press reportage was one sided and that we did not understand the situation. The USG position was clearly stated that we do understand the problems of Burundi but that the GRB must take the responsibility for what it does and seek to find a solution. The USG was not trying to alienate African leaders from Burundi but rather that we felt African leaders must take a stand against all injustice to maintain credibility. The Ambassador said he would faithfully report our position to his government.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL Burundi-US. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Kinshasa, Kigali, Dar Es Salaam, USUN New York, Rome, and Brussels. Drafted by Siefken; cleared by Cohen; approved by Newsom.
  2. The Department summarized Newsom’s meeting with Burundi Ambassador Ndabaniwe. Newsom said U.S.-Burundi relations could not improve until the Government of Burundi ceased indiscriminate killing and began a program of national reconciliation.