47. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.–Guinea Bilateral Relations; African Issues; the NAM


  • Americans

    • The President
    • Secretary Vance
    • Dr. Brzezinski
    • Gerald Funk, National Security Council
    • Oliver S. Crosby, Ambassador to Guinea
    • William C. Harrop, Acting Assistant Secretary of State
  • Guineans

    • President Sekou Toure
    • Moussa Diakite, Minister of Housing and Urban Development
    • Ismael Toure, Minister of Mines and Geology
    • Damantang Camara, President of the National Assembly
    • Mamady Conde, Ambassador to the U.S.


During a 70-minute exchange, Sekou Toure said he agreed that the NAM should not be dominated by the Soviets. He was working with Tito to seek a collegial leadership for the NAM rather than a single president (Castro). He expected their proposal to be accepted. The President and Sekou Toure agreed on the urgent need for resolution of Southern Africa issues. Toure acknowledged that Muzorewa was a bona fide political leader and felt that a negotiated reconciliation with the Patriotric Front should be possible. In response to the President’s request that Guinea support Sadat, Sekou Toure replied indirectly by emphasizing his close personal relationship with Sadat. The President underlined American concern about human rights questions, and congratulated Sekou Toure on the release from prison of Archbishop Tchidimbo.2 The President said the U.S. looked forward to expanding its aid to Guinea. The President reminded Toure of the importance we attach [Page 141] to continued cessation of Soviet reconnaisance flights from Conakry.3 The atmosphere was cordial, with Toure projecting a moderate image. End Summary.

President Carter welcomed the Guinean delegation, noting pleasure at our new friendship and the fine record of American investment in Guinea. He congratulated President Toure on his leadership role in Africa, his mediation of conflicts, and his forthcoming presidency of the OAU. The President commented on our mutual concern for the enhancement of human rights. He knew that Sekou Toure appreciated the importance of this issue to the American people. The President congratulated Sekou Toure on the release the previous day of Archbishop Tchidimbo.

Sekou Toure said he was happy to be in Washington and was determined to improve cooperation between Guinea and the United States. He then presented an historical sketch of Guinea since the 13th century, emphasizing the country’s resistance to colonial domination. He described how he, starting from the labor movement, had led Guinea toward freedom and toward the historic vote of 1958 when Guinea was the only one of 13 French colonies in Africa to chose independence. Since that time Guinea had been wrongly accused of communism and extremism. Guinea had a very bad press and wished to be judged on its actions not upon what people said of it. The Guinean people and their leaders were deeply religious, poor in material terms but not poor spiritually; they had a refined sense of human dignity.

Turning to contemporary African problems, Toure urged the U.S. to lend its effective support to self-determination, so that blacks and whites could have equal rights in South Africa, and the people of Zimbabwe could live together in true self-determination, so that Namibia could reach independence under international and UN auspices.

President Carter said he had listened with attention to Sekou Toure’s explanation of Guinea and the courage of its people, who insisted upon independence and freedom. All Western nations were gratified by the improving relationship between themselves and Guinea. He had discussed this among leaders of the West who all felt this evolution is of mutual benefit to the industrialized nations and to Guinea. The President said he admired the way Guinea had been able to utilize American aid and looked forward to some expansion of both this assistance and of trade between our countries.

The President said he hoped that Sekou Toure, as a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and an African leader, would use his influence to prevent the NAM from coming under Soviet domination. [Page 142] In the American view, Cuba and Castro are subject to Soviet influence and we are concerned by the draft communique distributed by Castro.4 The President wished to ask two questions: First, he understood Toure had just met with Tito and wondered how he assessed the balance among members for the Havana Conference. Second, he wanted Sekou Toure to know the United States agreed fully with the Guinea view on Zimbabwe and Namibia. He would appreciate Toure’s assessment of the Lusaka Commonwealth meeting.5

Sekou Toure returned to his presentation, noting that after self-determination were effected in Namibia and Zimbabwe we would be faced with the core problem of apartheid. If apartheid could be abolished then there would be an excellent prospect for cooperation between the countries of black Africa and South Africa, by far the most industrialized nation on the continent.

On Rhodesia, Toure felt the Lusaka conference had exposed certain contradictions between the UK and the Front Line. He believed there was a possibility of compromise between Muzorewa and the Patriotic Front on condition that the reality of radical change be accepted both by Ian Smith and the more conservative elements in the British government. Toure had supported the recent OAU resolution recognizing the Patriotic Front as sole representative of the Zimbabwe people,6 but he knew that this was no solution. Muzorewa was a political leader regardless of how one evaluated the election. The Patriotic Front and the leaders of the Salisbury regime must come together and initiate a reconciliation in good faith. There must also be good faith shown toward the armed cadres of the Patriotic Front who had fought and suffered for their independence. They were really the ones whose interests were recognized by the OAU resolution.

President Carter said the United States would support the British effort as developed by the Commonwealth at Lusaka and which has the support of certain Front Line leaders. He asked Toure’s views of the NAM meeting in Havana.

[Page 143]

Toure said he had hoped also to discuss the Western Sahara, Uganda, his recent talks in Yugoslavia, Rumania and Libya, the questions of Chad and Vietnam, and other issues.

The President suggested these other matters be saved for the later meeting Toure would have with Secretary Vance.7

Turning to the NAM, Toure said that he and Tito had recently published in Belgrade a long communique on non-alignment. Their intention was to create a collegial leadership of the NAM in place of a single president who could be the instrument of a major outside power, for example Fidel Castro and the USSR. It was not reasonable for an organization composed of many varied governments to have a single spokesman for the four-year period between non-aligned conferences. Sekou Toure agreed completely with the President that the non-aligned should be in fact non-aligned, not a tool of the Soviet Union. He believed that the membership would approve of the collegial leadership proposal.

President Carter thanked Toure for this explanation. The President said we were very concerned about the isolation of President Sadat and asked Toure for his views on this matter. He asked that Guinea provide maximum support to Sadat.

Toure emphasized his long and close personal friendship for Anwar Sadat and his admiration for him. Toure had had a long and useful exchange with Sadat at the Monrovia conference in July about the Middle East peace process. Sadat was a fine and courageous leader.

President Carter concluded the meeting by noting that Sadat’s courage was like the courage of the Guinean people. He thanked Sekou Toure for his visit and wished him a good trip in the U.S. He hoped for continually improved understanding between the U.S. and Guinea. The President recalled that when the Guinean Ambassador had presented his credentials two years ago the President had expressed his concern over the deployment of Soviet TU 95 BEAR reconnaisance aircraft from Conakry. Sekou Toure had shown his friendship for the U.S. and his interest in true non-alignment by cooperating with us on this matter of importance to our security, and had ceased the flights. This had opened a period of warmer relations between us which we hoped would continue and prosper. President Toure thanked the President for the useful exchange.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 37, Memcons: President 7–9/79. Confidential. Drafted by Harrop on August 11 and cleared by Funk. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room at the White House. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting ended at 11:42 a.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Archbishop Raymond-Marie Tchidimbo was imprisoned after his alleged involvement in the 1970 invasion of Guinea. He was released and exiled on August 7. See Document 41.
  3. See Documents 27 and 28.
  4. In telegram 193073 to multiple posts, July 25, the Department described the initial U.S. reaction to the Cuban draft communiqué for the Havana NAM summit as “totally unhelpful in both its overall orientation and specific positions. If adopted at the summit in anything like its present form, the Cuban draft could take us back to the confrontations of three years ago, which embittered the relationship between the United States and the Third World.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790341–0712)
  5. The 22nd Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting took place in Lusaka August 1–7. A summary can be found in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume XXV, 1979, pp. 29901–29908.
  6. The OAU summit was held in Monrovia July 17–21. A summary of the resolution can be found in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, Volume XXV, 1979, pp. 29841–29842.
  7. In telegram 207979 to Conakry, August 10, the Department reported on Vance’s meeting with Touré in which they discussed Namibia, Western Sahara, Chad, Uganda, and Southeast Asia. Both expressed hope for strengthened U.S.-Guinean relations. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790362–0610)