103. Instruction From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium 1



  • The Kalonji Case and its Bearing on Belgo-American Relations


  • Brussel’s Despatch No. 786 of December 28, 1956;2 Leopoldville’s Despatch No. 151 of January 9, 19573

The Department concurs with the Embassy with respect to the importance of both the Embassy and the Consulate General at Leopoldville maintaining informal contact at a high level with officials in the Belgian Government and in the Government General, respectively, for discussion on a continuing basis of important problems of mutual interest between Belgium and the United States. It notes with approval that the Consulate General at Leopoldville is in complete accord with this principle.

As a general principle, the Department also agrees with the Embassy that this Government should not put itself in the position of taking actions in dealing with important and sensitive problems involving the Congolese and the Congo which would have the effect of undermining the basis of US cooperation and understanding with Belgium without frank and thorough discussion of such problems with the responsible Belgian authorities. At the same time, the Department does not believe that acceptance of this principle requires us to look behind the official acts of the Belgian authorities themselves.

In the Kalonji case, the Consulate General was presented with a passport duly and recently validated for travel to the United States. Our authorities in the Congo know from experience that Africans are not given passports valid for travel abroad except by the Belgian authorities on the basis of very careful considerations and in full knowledge of the circumstances of use. The Belgian handling of the [Page 309] case was, therefore, in accordance with its normal routine and the Consulate General similarly decided to process it normally.

The Department has been greatly encouraged at the indication of a somewhat more liberal Belgian policy inherent in the granting to Kalonji of a passport valid for travel to the United States. It believes that the best posture for the United States with respect to Congo developments is one of quietly expecting and therefore of quietly accepting forward steps by the administering authorities. To act otherwise would run the risk of conveying to the Belgians an impression of surprise at any progressive actions and of resignation to a less forward looking policy.

In view of the above considerations and in the light of the circumstances described in Leopoldville telegram No. 56 of December 174 and Leopoldville despatch No. 151 of January 9, the Department believes the Embassy will agree that the Consulate General at Leopoldville acted correctly in handling this unprecedented case.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 032–Kalonji, Isaac/3–557. Confidential. Repeated to Leopoldville.
  2. Supra .
  3. In despatch 151, Consul General Green related the reasons why he chose not to pursue the Kalonji visit with high government officials. He did not wish to give the impression that the United States had some ulterior motive in promoting the visit or was unduly concerned about it. Since the Belgians had renewed Kalonji’s passport after his application for a U.S. visa, Green assumed they had no objection to the visit. (Department of State, Central Files, 032–Kalonji, Isaac/1–957)
  4. In telegram 56, Green stated the Belgian Government had handled the Kalonji visit as a routine matter. Since Belgium had indicated it wished to avoid a policy decision, Green advised against an official U.S. approach, which might embarrass Belgian administrators. (Ibid., 032–Kalonji, Isaac/12–1756)