83. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

[Omitted here are items unrelated to Central Africa.]

3. Congressional Consultations on Zaire: We have begun to call members of the Leadership and others who should be consulted on your decision to provide assistance to Zaire. We expect to complete the calls late today or early tomorrow. We are emphasizing the following points:

—The outlook in Zaire is uncertain at best, and we must avoid making Zaire appear as a test of American interest or will, or a major East-West confrontation. At the same time, our failure to support Zaire against an attack on its territorial integrity would have wider repercussions on our future influence in Africa.2

—We will send non-lethal equipment and only in amounts already approved by Congress for Zaire.

—We do not plan to expand the number of American personnel in Zaire.

—We will accelerate already programmed economic assistance in the form of PL 480 food and commodity imports.

—Belgium and France are providing logistic support; France is also supplying military advisors. We were not consulted by Morocco on its decision to send troops to Zaire or by France on its decision to lend support. But we are hopeful that their effort can stabilize the military situation so that the Nigerian diplomatic effort will have a chance to work.3

I will report to you tomorrow on the Congressional reaction to our consultation after all the calls are completed.

4. US Assistance to Zaire: You had two questions on the memorandum that I sent to you last week on US assistance to Zaire:4

—First, you asked why I said we should turn down requests for US assistance in funds or military aid from moderate African states interested in helping Zaire. The reasons for opposing such aid are essentially political. We have the authority to let a foreign government use US supplied defense articles for purposes other than internal secu[Page 253]rity or self-defense if the use is compatible with “collective arrangements or measures consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”5 Whether this use fits under that rubric is questionable. In addition, our sounding in Congress indicates a strong negative reaction if we should permit African nations to use US supplied military equipment in Zaire.

—Second, you asked what it meant for me to say that Mobutu should “withhold any suggestion of support for the Angolan insurgents.” As you know, Angolan President Neto has charged that Mobutu is aiding the active guerilla movements that continue to fight against the Angolan government. We have no hard evidence that Zaire is giving significant support to these anti-Neto forces, but we have mentioned to Mobutu that we would oppose any such aid.6 Zairian help for the anti-Neto forces, while of minimal military value, could serve as a pretext for the Cubans to become militarily active in Zaire.

[Omitted here are items unrelated to Central Africa.]

We have cabled Charlie Diggs in Mali, John Brademas and Dick Schweiker in China, and John Sparkman in Australia.

[Omitted here are items unrelated to Central Africa.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 18, Evening Reports (State) 4/77. Secret. Carter wrote “To Cy, J” in the upper right corner.
  2. Carter initialed “C” in the left margin.
  3. See Document 82.
  4. See Document 81.
  5. Carter wrote “We should keep this option open” in the left margin.
  6. Carter wrote “I agree—Couldn’t understand the language” in the left margin.