73. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Namibia.]

Namibia. On Monday2 the Contact Group had its final two sessions with the South Africans, with Vorster attending the last meeting. The South Africans withdrew their earlier proposal on troop withdrawal3 and presented a new illustrative proposal which the Contact Group believes provides a basis for future negotiations. The new South African plan is no longer conditioned on Cuban withdrawal from the southern portion of Angola, though they made it plain that their troops would reenter Namibia in force if there were any “Cuban tricks”. Serious problems remain, however, as the Five pointed out to Vorster and Botha:

—The South African target date of next March for the election is still too early to permit full SWAPO participation.

—The South Africans resist a formulation which says that the UN representative would have the rights of “supervision and control” in the elections, as provided for in the basic Security Council resolution on Namibia.

—The South Africans still want more troops in Namibia until the election than would be acceptable internationally.

—The problem of demobilizing pro-South African Namibian militia is inadequately dealt with.

The South Africans agreed to submit their new plan in writing by the end of the week, and the Contact Group will meet in New York after their return to prepare its assessment of the talks and recommendations for next steps.4 We think there is still some give in South African [Page 186] positions and that we can keep the talks going. However, given South Africa’s desire to move ahead to establish a sympathetic regime in Namibia, time is of the essence.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Namibia.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 38, State Department Evening Reports, 9/77. Secret. Carter initialed the memorandum and wrote at the top of the page: “Warren.”
  2. September 22. In telegram 4978 from Pretoria, September 22, the Embassy reported on the meetings. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770345–0685)
  3. In a September 23 memorandum to Carter, Christopher summarized two meetings between Botha and the Contact Group. On the issue of troop withdrawal, Christopher noted that “the South Africans have demanded ‘watertight guarantees’ that the Cubans would not move against Namibia.” The South African plan called for the UN to bring about the withdrawal of all Cuban troops from a substantial portion of Southern Angola (to north of the Benguela Railway), and allow 8000 South African troops to remain in Namibia until election day. (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 38, State Department Evening Reports, 9/77)
  4. Carter wrote “C” in the left-hand margin next to this sentence.