224. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • US
    • Mr. Livingston T. Merchant
    • Mr. Joseph C. Satterthwaite
    • Mr. Armin Meyer
    • Mr. E. T. Long
  • UK
    • Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar
    • The Hon. Peter Ramsbotham
    • Mr. Ewart-Biggs
    • Lord Hood
    • Mr. Hurd
  • France
    • M. Charles Lucet
    • M. Bruno De Leusse
    • M. Claude Winckler
    • Mr. Jacques Leprette


  • Africa

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

Mr. Hoyer Millar asked what the latest news was from the Congo.

Mr. Satterthwaite said that Mobutu appeared to be in control and that Lumumba was still in Leopoldville. We thought it was better for Lumumba to stay in Leopoldville, for, if he goes to Stanleyville, there is a danger of another Katanga type development. We consider Kasavubu to be the legal head of the Congo Government.

Mr. Hoyer Millar said we should be careful not to back Kasavubu too openly, for there is a danger that he would be tarred with the Western brush.

Mr. Hoyer Millar then asked about the French abstention on the Congo issue.

Mr. Lucet said that the French had abstained on the Congo issue from the beginning, feeling that the question was not proper in the context utilized. The French felt that the goal of the United Nations was to expel white influence from Africa. The French were also never ready to vote for the immediate withdrawal of the Belgians from that area. [Page 499] Admitting that there had been lots of bilateral consultations with the British and Americans, he said the French felt strongly it was not useful to expel the Belgians from the Congo nor to contribute to an anti-white movement. Actually, the French were extremely pleased with the result of the latest vote, but he pointed to the ambiguity in the resolution.

He said the French abstained because they didn’t know quite where we were all going and besides they had abstained in the past.

The French have a definite feeling that the UN has been consistently anti-European and anti-white.

Mr. Hoyer Millar said that everyone admitted the whole Congo development was messy, but how could the West extricate itself except by going through the UN.

Mr. Merchant said the United States felt it had no alternative but completely to back Hammarskjold. Otherwise there was a danger that all Western influence would disappear in the area. He said he didn’t want to labor the point and, observing that Hammarskjold in walking the tight rope had done some things we didn’t like, said we strongly differed from the French view and felt there was no question of Hammarskjold trying to have the white Western elements evicted from Africa. Mr. Hoyer Millar noted that it would have been completely dangerous to have used in this sense troops from members on the Security Council because the Russians obviously would have been first in line.

Mr. Merchant said he knew that Hammarskjold has as a continuing long-term goal the utilization of white Western technicians, preferably Belgians, in the Congo. He observed that we were frankly acutely distressed to see in the UN the French vote on the side of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Hoyer Millar said the British also were puzzled on why we differed on this problem. Obviously tripartite action on our part would have brought the Soviets into the Congo.

Mr. Merchant added that this also would have turned all of the Africans against us. We felt there should be no doubt of our strong and continuing support of Hammarskjold.

Mr. Lucet said that the treatment of the Belgian troops had been brutal. He wondered about channeling economic aid through the UN, observing that the French object to this. The French feel the best thing is to have the Belgian technicians return to the Congo, and with the UN resolution currently in force, the UN can’t ask the Belgians to come back.

Mr. Hoyer Millar said that, if the Congolese were to ask for the return of Belgian technicians, obviously there could be no UN objection.

[Page 500]

Mr. Merchant said that we have never believed that Hammarskjold intended to impede the return of Belgian technicians to the Congo. In our strong support of the UN, we have always separated the issue of short-term rehabilitation, which we feel should be channeled through the UN, from the long-term problem of development capital, which we think should come from individual sources.

Mr. Lucet asked about Katanga.

Mr. Satterthwaite said obviously we didn’t want the natural resources of Katanga lost to the West. Unfortunately, Katanga as a political issue represents to the African states the whole “capitalist-colonial” dichotomy. He said we would prefer to see a Congo federation, including Katanga.

Mr. Hoyer Millar said the British would agree with the federation idea.

Mr. Lucet said so much depends on Lumumba, and Mr. Satterthwaite agreed that Lumumba was certainly not yet out of the picture.

[Here follows discussion of an unrelated subject.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320/9–2160. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. The meeting took place in Suite 2707 of the Waldorf Towers. This was one of a series of conversations between U.S. representatives and delegates to the 15th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. Participants not previously identified include British Permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar, Director of Political Affairs in the French Foreign Ministry Charles Lucet, and Minister of the British Embassy in Washington Viscount Hood.