113. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State0
94. I saw Wigny at three forty-five p.m. immediately before he was to visit the King to discuss statement of Belgian position to be made by Government to Parliament at two p.m. tomorrow.
According to my instruction (in Freund-Penfield telecon Saturday night)1 I expressed our concern over effect on Belgian and Western position of world reaction to general military intervention. I said I thought it was extremely important international public relations in this connection be handled with extreme care. I pointed out that no effective objection could be made by anyone to use of troops for [Page 290] humanitarian purpose of saving lives in a situation of anarchy. However, maintenance of order in the general sense is a function of sovereignty and if Belgium makes public announcement that it is taking over this function in the Congo, without being asked by the Congolese Republic, it would, however unfairly, be widely accused of reimposing colonial status despite disclaimers. I therefore thought it most important that any public statement that be [was] made make very clear that military actions being taken were to save lives of Europeans and that no statement be made indicating that was Belgian intention to take over function of restoring and maintaining public order as a whole in Congo. These are my personal views and were so described to Wigny.
Wigny responded that he was fully aware of the importance of this distinction. He read me cables from Van Den Bosch in Leopoldville emphasizing danger of widespread intervention of paratroopers in Leopoldville. Van Den Bosch also suggested that statement be made saying that troop action was to save European lives and property with no political intent whatever. Once lives were safe troops would return to their bases.
Wigny said that as a result of our conversation he would be particularly careful to make this point clear.
I thanked him for help of Belgian troops in saving lives of Americans in Elisabethville. Asked him about relation of de Schrijver and Ganshof2 trip to Leopoldville to statement of Belgian policy tomorrow at two p.m. Wigny replied de Schrijver and Ganshof would try to secure request from GOC for Belgian military support but even if they were unsuccessful statement of policy would have to be made at two p.m. Monday.3
Wigny said it would be much appreciated if space could be found on American airplanes returning to Brussels for Belgian refugees. Told him of two C–124’s in Brazzaville. Also said there was extreme shortage of fuel at Kamina constituting serious problem to evacuation and was there anything we could do to help. Emphasized Congo developments constitute serious problem for stability of his government.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/7–1060. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Paris and London.↩
- July 9; see footnote 2, Document 110.↩
- Minister for General African Affairs Walter J. Ganshof.↩
- July 11; the text of the Prime Minister’s statement is in J. Gerard-Libois and Benoit Verhaegen, Congo 1960 (Brussels: Centre de Recherche et d’Information Socio-Politiques, ), vol. II, pp. 502–504.↩