198. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State 0
586. Re Congo.
- Hammarskjold asked to see me at 6 p.m. tonight. As background for
what he wanted to put to us, he showed or told me in rapid
- Text Kasavubu speech on Radio Congo1 declaring Lumumba traitor and revoking government’s mandate; appointing instead Joseph Ileo as Prime Minister; and, inter alia, asking UN be responsible for maintenance law and order. He commented this action proper in terms fundamental law of Congo.
- AP and UPI press reports of Lumumba speech, also on Congo Radio,2 saying he was still in command. (Later information brought in the Hammarskjold brought forth his comment “Someone else must have read Lumumba’s speech for him.”)
- Note verbale to USSR re presence Soviet crews, planes, etc.,3 making pointed inquiry as to status these individuals and equipment in view SC and SYG decisions and directives against big power representation in Congo. This text handed Soviets today. SYG commented Kuznetsov (USSR) readily understood that SYG’s inquiry was disguised protest.
- Note verbale to Belgians,4 delivered Saturday, intentionally cast in same terms of “pointed inquiry” re Belgian officers serving in Katanga forces, questioning their status, etc.
- SYG then produced cable from Cordier stamped “top secret” (UN usage) and read selected sentences aloud. Congo Prime Minister-designate, Ileo, had called on Cordier Sunday night to discuss situation. In course their conversation Ileo apparently demonstrated astonishing naivete re game Russians are playing in Congo and Cordier had to assume professorial role. Moreover, Cordier gained impression US impact in Congolese eyes suffered by comparison with Soviet.
- Main point for US in Cordier’s cable was his “urgent recommendation” that US send someone “not too high level, not too junior” to Leopoldville to arrive with certain amount of fanfare. He would be able observe local scene, see what Soviets are up to, and make first-hand report to Washington. Hammarskjold stressed this was Cordier’s recommendation, based on close touch with local scene, and he (SYG) passed it along without making any recommendation himself, although he said he felt Cordier had good judgment in matters this kind.
- We then briefly discussed SYG’s ideas as to future steps. He said his primary objective now is to “explode” what Soviets are up to. To do this he feels UN’s hands must be “absolutely clean”. He said Soviets “know what Belgians are doing in Katanga,” and will probably cite that to him in response his veiled protest re their planes and crews.
- He characterized Soviet plan in following terms: To play their role they needed a Katanga problem and a “bad boy.” UN had, there-fore, to try to remove these justifications. Fact unfortunately was that Belgians were playing too many “childish tricks”, which made clear Katanga was not simply an “internal” matter. He showed me further exchanges with Belgian Del and with FonMin Wigny indicating 650 paratroopers still at Kitona, as well as two gun boats at Matadi, despite assurances total withdrawal would, and later, had taken place. He renews his protest to Belgian Government for this. These exchanges [Page 459] are soon to be published as further addenda to SYG’s report to SC on status Belgian withdrawal.6
- In this connection I referred to facts and figures provided by Defense in its memo re USAF airlifting departing Belgian troops (Deptel 308).7 He said he would be pleased to have these “for the record.” He pointed out in latest Belgian letter US Air Force fares better, and blame for delay now placed (totally unjustifiably) onto UN’s shoulders.
- With regard to SYG’s approach to Belgians re their officers in Katanga forces, I mentioned Department’s concern for “security implications” should these Belgian elements, by leaving, precipitate new wave of flights by remaining European population. In reply SYG indicated doubts Belgian officers in Katanga would actually be withdrawn as result his approach. However, he thought 4,000-man UN force in Katanga provided more basic security for non-African population of Katanga than did Tshombe’s five hundred-man army. He said if Belgians and other Europeans did flee Katanga, gap they created could well be filled by Russians and their friends, which would be something Soviets might really like to have. Hammarskjold stressed in this, as in all things relative to Congo, matters are excessively delicate, and every step he takes is by choosing lesser risk.
- As I was leaving, further cable arrived from Cordier containing texts of three notes to Cordier from Kasavubu, asking UN to guard his (Kasavubu) office and residence, to be responsible for law and order, and to close all airfields throughout Congo. Hammarskjold then showed me only instruction he had thus far sent to Cordier since new developments, which said simply that UN forces already responsible for law and order in Congo.
- Later at Department’s suggestion I put two questions to SYG re Cordier recommendation:
- How did he relate Cordier’s recommendation to later developments, as far as urgency, etc. concerned?
- How could he relate sending of US official, at this time, to whatever action he is planning to take?
SYG said he would like “chew” over these, and called me back late tonight. He said he was sure Cordier had, as result his conversation with Ileo, anticipated something going to happen, but it probably developed more broadly than expected. Things still being “touch and go” at moment, SYG felt question of whether US should do this needed further consideration, particularly because of timing. “Be [Page 460] damn careful on the timing; you don’t want to kill off a good, new man who is at least anti-East if not pro-West.” As example of what not to do, he referred to quoted comment on Kasavubu today by Belgian FonMin Wigny, to effect “We hail him.” Should US Government decide to act upon Cordier’s recommendation, Hammarskjold expressed strong desire to be in the picture, and in effect to be consulted on timing. He suggested no action be taken until tomorrow, and most which then should happen would be announcement Mr. X would arrive in Congo in couple of days.
- Please instruct.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–560. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution.↩
- For text of Kasavubu’s speech of September 5, see Congo 1960, vol. II, pp. 818–819.↩
- Texts of two radio speeches by Lumumba on September 5 are ibid., pp. 820–821.↩
- Dated September 5; for text, see U.N. doc. S/4503; also printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 567–568.↩
- Dated September 4; for text, see U.N. doc. S/4482/Add.3; also printed in Public Papers of the Secretaries-General, vol. V, pp. 148–149.↩
- For text of the report, dated August 30, see U.N. doc. S/4475. For texts of Hammarskjöld’s telegram of September 4 to Wigny and the latter’s reply of September 9, see U.N. doc. S/4475/Add. 2 and 3.↩
- Dated September 2. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.5445/8–3160)↩