116. Telegram From the President’s Assistant Staff Secretary (Eisenhower) to the Staff Secretary (Goodpaster), at Newport, Rhode Island0

CAP5380–60. The following is the substance of a telephone message received by Mr. Ferguson from Ambassador Timberlake at Léopoldville at approximately 10:00 am, July 12th.

Ambassador Timberlake has attended a Cabinet meeting of the Congolese Government, at which were present the Vice Prime [Page 294] Minister,1 the Minister of Foreign Affairs,2 and the Minister of National Defense.3 He received from the Cabinet a written invitation for the United States to send troops to the Congo to maintain law and order.4 The situation is particularly serious in the Léopoldville area and there is no hope for collaboration between the Congolese and Belgian armies as a result of the incident at Matadi. The Congolese Government requested Ambassador Timberlake to transmit to the United States Government its request for a contingent of 2000 men5 to be sent to Leopoldville.

Ambassador Timberlake stated that the Force Publique had gotten hold of and distributed arms from Camp Leopold. There is less than one week’s supply of flour in Leopoldville. There is no [sic] food problem in Leopoldville Province. There is urgent need for 100 tons of hard winter wheat flour. Because of the situation at Matadi, any supplies brought in by sea should come by way of Pointe Noire and Brazzaville. Ambassador Timberlake expects to receive from the Congolese Government today a request for P.L. 4806 flour.

Regardless of what decision is made in Washington with regard to the Congolese Government’s request for the presence of American troops, Ambassador Timberlake feels that the two companies of the 24th Infantry now on stand-by basis in Germany should be flown down to Brazzaville. Their presence there would have a very desirable effect. This will require the concurrence of the French Government.

Ambassador Timberlake states that it would be much better if U.S. troops were under the UN banner. He would think that this could be arranged in connection with the recommendation from Ralph Bunche. Because of the shortage of food, he expects rioting if this situation is not relieved within a few days. He pointed this out to the Congolese Government and said that he did not wish to have American troops shooting Congolese. He told the Congolese Government that unless it would assure adequate food supplies, Ambassador Timberlake will recommend against the entry of American troops.

The Congolese Government has given permission for U.S. military aircraft to land anywhere in the Congo.

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Present at the meeting of the Cabinet were de Schrijver, Van Der Meersch, and Van Den Bosch, Belgian Ambassador to the Congo. They all expressed their agreement with the request of the Congolese Government and stated that they would assure cooperation of the Belgian forces.

Ambassador Timberlake is keeping the telephone line open between Leopoldville and Washington for a reply.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up, Congo. Confidential; Operational Immediate.
  2. Antoine Gizenga.
  3. Justin Bomboko.
  4. Albert Nyembo.
  5. Timberlake transmitted a translation in telegram 54 from Léopoldville, July 12. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/7–1260)
  6. In the version of the request published in Congo 1960, vol. II, pp. 542–543, the request was for 3,000 men. The figure in telegram 54 is 2,000.
  7. The Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, approved July 10, 1954. (68 Stat. (pt. 1) 454)