110. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State 0

78. Embtel 77.1 After Penfield–Freund telecon this evening2 referring to problems for West expected arise from planned Belgian military [Page 285] intervention in Congo reported reference telegram, Ambassador attempted unsuccessfully see Foreign Minister Wigny tonight. He not available until early tomorrow morning but Embassy officer just returned from seeing Schuurmans. Ambassador still planning see Wigny in morning.

Embassy officer expressed Department’s concern over problem widespread adverse world reaction (making clear we not asking reversal Belgian decisions) and said Ambassador would wish have Wigny’s ideas for handling situation so as minimize adverse effects.

Schuurmans said action would not be contrary UN Charter but gave little reassuring argumentation to be used to combat accusations of aggression. Article VI of Belgo-Congolese Treaty signed at time of independence but not yet ratified states, according Schuurmans, Belgium may intervene to protect persons and property, restore order but only on request from Congo Government. Van Den Bosch has several times discussed with GOC possibility and desirability such a request. He has not been refused but GOC continues hesitate owing such ministers as Kashamura. Slight hope remaining GOC can be induced make request. Additional hope is offer of good offices just received from Government of Ghana which dispatching mission of ministers to arrive Léopoldville tomorrow.3 Mission may attempt convince GOC make request to Belgians. Katanga Government has already made request several times but GOB has maintained it will accept nothing less than central government request.

Schuurmans also said military operations will be kept to as few key centers as possible and on very limited scale.

If necessary to achieve objectives he admits more than limited operations might be undertaken. Intention is restore order under existing government rather than unseat it and establish one of Belgium’s choosing.

Public statement will be made (timing still unstated) that will explain Belgian intentions and justify actions. Statement will not be made to UN to avoid justifying contention problem is matter between two completely disassociated states and therefore matter for Security Council. Embassy officer expressed skepticism that this would discourage any number governments from attempting place matter before Security Council.

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Without openly indicating doubts as to adequacy Belgian arguments for countering expected attacks on their actions, Embassy officer re-emphasized keen interest Ambassador would have in hearing from Wigny tomorrow morning his further ideas on handling international reactions.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/7–960. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Also sent to Paris and London.
  2. Dated July 9, telegram 77 reported that the Belgian Government informed the Embassy of its plan for military intervention in the Congo. It stated that the purposes of the plan “will be both to protect lives of Europeans and reestablish minimum of order. Once such order restored Belgians intend withdraw leaving Congo in governable condition. Intervention, however it may be interpreted, will be without slightest intention reestablish Colonial regime.” (Ibid.)
  3. No record of the conversation between Penfield and Economic Counselor of Embassy Richard B. Freund has been found.
  4. The Ghanaian mission, which was to examine what forms of aid the Congo required and how Ghana could be of assistance, arrived in Léopoldville on July 12.