76. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

1. Zaire—The military situation in western Shaba appears to be deteriorating. Latest reports indicate that hostile forces are moving east towards the last Zairian military position before Kolwezi.2 The Belgians have begun air shipments of small arms and munitions (22 tons).3

As we expected, international and African reaction is very cautious, with most feeling that the affair is internal. President Nyerere has sent us a strong exposition of his viewpoint combined with an urgent request that we provide no “new or specific US involvement.”4

I raised the question of the invasion into Zaire from Angola with Dobrynin this afternoon. He told me that the Soviets had been in touch with Neto who claimed that there were no Cubans or Angolan forces in Zaire. Neto further said to the Soviets that he would not put Angolan or Cuban troops in Zaire. I told Dobrynin that we were very concerned with this incursion and that I expected that they would continue to caution restraint. I informed Dobrynin that we had already sent limited supplies and gave him the nature of the supplies.5

[Omitted here are items unrelated to Central Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 18, Evening Reports (State) 3/77. Secret.
  2. In telegram 2283 from Kinshasa, March 15, the Embassy transmitted the latest situation report on the position of hostile forces in Shaba. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770148–1220)
  3. In telegram 2490 from Brussels, March 15, the Embassy reported that the Belgians had sent two C–130s loaded with 22 metric tons of guns, ammunition, and grenades. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770088–1099)
  4. In telegram 1082 from Dar es Salaam, March 15, the Embassy reported on Nyerere’s views on the situation in Zaire. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770088–0874)
  5. Carter underscored “limited supplies” and initialed “C” in the left margin. See Document 75.