197. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations0

317. 1. Dept concludes from your extensive and excellent reporting SYG’s objectives re Congo are parallel with our own, e.g., keep UN in Congo even over objection Lumumba; Katanga problem to be resolved peacefully and not to West’s disadvantage; Force Publique to be brought under control; UN to obtain progressive control airports and ports; and Soviet influence in Congo to be minimized.

Previously we had considered, and SYG apparently agreed, main test of strength would come if Lumumba asked UN to leave. While such threat not completely eliminated, in light outcome recent conference African states which stressed GOC should cooperate with UN,1 it does not now appear first test will come on this issue. Primary problems [Page 456] as we see them are to bring FP under control, nullify Soviet penetration and prevent loss Katanga to Lumumba. We believe we have same objectives as SYG but are concerned at means for carrying them out. If UN fails meet these tasks successfully we will be faced with situation where regime in which there is increasing Communist influence will solidify control over large part of Congo. US believes this must be prevented and counting heavily on SYG. However, we need to know more regarding his plans if our support to be fully effective.

Dept pleased to note in urtel 4712SYG has been making efforts work out arrangements with GOC so that reform of Force Publique could be undertaken. In light continuing reports disorder, and particularly in view reprehensible attacks on American crewmen Stanleyville, would be interested in learning from SYG what further immediate steps are to be taken to bring FP under control and to strengthen general security situation. While we realize UN forces under SC resolutions have no specific authority disarm GOC troops and it would in fact undoubtedly be dangerous to attempt it, some greater show of strength on part UN when Force Publique gets out of hand would, we believe, have a salutary effect since leaderless Congolese troops have shown no signs willingness resist firm display of authority. In this connection their panic when Belgian paratroops intervened in July might be recalled. In long run, ideal solution would be for UN to undertake reorganization, re-training of GOC forces including provision UN officer corps. In this connection, has any progress been made in securing agreement have Kettani serve as head FP? Moreover, new element has been injected in Lumumba power position with Soviets placing aircraft at his disposal. His military capability clearly enhanced as result, and we greatly concerned at implication this may have for his ability take over Katanga. Dept strongly hopes SYG will do everything possible to frustrate such moves and considers this highlights need to bring airports and ports of entry in Congo under UN control to maximum possible degree as soon as possible.

We realize there is point beyond which SYG cannot go without legitimately being accused interfering in internal Congolese affairs, but we would hope that broad scope UN operation would be considered by him as sufficient grounds for obtaining effective control of airports in Congo. Dept believes control of airports in Katanga particularly crucial. It appears to us that since Elisabethville airport under Tshombe’s control and Kamina under UN control, with orders restricting use Kamina base to planes on UN business, that major question [Page 457] will be how to handle possible landings of Lumumba forces elsewhere in Katanga. Accordingly request you explore with SYG what steps UN can take to frustrate any such landings. Would be highly desirable if UN can control airports so as to minimize military activities. We believe in light circumstances surrounding UN entry into Katanga, accomplished on basis of assurances which in essence meant UN presence would not be permitted to upset status quo, special case can be made for UN insisting that Lumumba troops shall be denied permission land in Katanga. Military operation on land poses somewhat different problem, but even here we believe Bunche may have interpreted SC mandate too narrowly in announcing to press (urtel 567)3 that “UN force would not intervene in event serious fighting developed between Lumumba’s and Tshombe’s forces.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/8–2260. Secret. Drafted by Buffum and Ferguson; cleared by Kohler, White, and Satterthwaite; and approved by Wilcox. Repeated to Brussels, Léopoldville, Moscow, Paris, and London.
  2. The special session of the Conference of Independent African States met at Léopoldville August 25–30. For texts of three resolutions concerning the Congo, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 565–566.
  3. Dated August 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/8–2260)
  4. Dated September 1. (Ibid., 306/9–160)