247. Memorandum of Discussion at the 464th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–4. Secretary of State Herter presided at the meeting.]

5. U.S. Policy Toward the Congo (NSC 6001; NSC Actions Nos. 2262, 2270, 2276, 2284, 2287 and 22951)

Mr. Dulles began his briefing on the Congo by stating that the situation was not much changed. Unfortunately, we do not think that Lumumba’s position is worsening and may, in fact, be improving because of the support it is receiving from the UN troops, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] it appears that the UAR, Ghana, and Guinea may make a proposal in the UN for a good offices delegation which would go to the Congo to seek political reconciliation. The effect of such reconciliation would be to restore Lumumba to power. Morocco was also backing Lumumba, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indicated that five Congolese soldiers had attempted to assassinate Mobutu on the 15th of October. The U.S. had prior information of this attempt and had warned Mobutu. The attempt, however, had shaken him. If he had not been warned, it was probable that he would have been caught.

Mobutu had now dropped his idea of reconvening Parliament and planned to carry on with his group of administrators until the end of the year. He was optimistic if he thought that he could actually do so. Mr. Dulles referred to Mobutu’s meeting with Tshombe in Katanga and to the agreement between the UN and Katanga that UN troops should be moved into a rebel area in Katanga. He noted that on the 19th of October, Mobutu had arrested a group of Lumumba’s supporters but that they had been released almost immediately. Mr. Dulles concluded by stating that the situation in the Congo was about the same as it had been and that action in the UN appeared to be the next development.

Secretary Herter said that the most disturbing aspect of the situation was Hammarskjold’s apparent change of heart. How much of this was due to the hammering he had received from the Soviets and how much was the result of pressure from others we did not know. Hammarskjold had sent a stiff letter to Tshombe and to the Belgians requesting [Page 540] them to get rid of all Belgians in Katanga. Such action would probably lead to considerable chaos in Katanga. Ambassador Timberlake was very worried about the new Hammarskjold line. Mr. Bohlen was going to talk to Hammarskjold and to Mr. Wadsworth. During the last week Hammarskjold had put a curse on everyone in the Congo, indicating that there was not a single individual in the Congo on whom one could rely. Hammarskjold’s thinking then and now was to get the Congolese Parliament in session. One difficulty in this connection was that the members of Parliament were afraid to go to Leopoldville.

Secretary Herter went on to describe the economic deterioration that was taking place in the Congo. A half-million dollars had been allocated for public works for the unemployed. Probably two-thirds of the people in Leopoldville were without jobs. We were afraid that Hammarskjold’s new line will mean the re-appearance of Lumumba. Cordier has stated that if Lumumba once more becomes the principal figure in the Congo, there would be no place for the UN; in such a situation the UN might as well pull out. The U.S. has put up money twice for the Congo. In addition to the one-half million dollars for public works, we had put money up for imports of spare parts in order to get some kind of industrial activity going. However, there was not anyone in the Congo who could handle this money. Soviet and Chinese money has been coming into the Congo and no one is sure who is bought by whom. We hope that someone will get parliamentary support and that this will clarify the situation. For Lumumba to get back in would just not be the answer, however.

Mr. Stans asked how much we could rely on the alleged disaffection of the members of Parliament from Lumumba. Secretary Herter stated that Ileo had been going around the country talking to members of Parliament and was quite optimistic. He thinks he can get Parliament to back Kasavubu. We did not know, however, how many members of Parliament would come back to Leopoldville. Secretary Dillon observed that the “black satchel” operation of the Soviets and Chinese also made the outcome of a parliamentary vote doubtful. Mr. Dulles observed that how the vote went depended on who controlled the troops in Leopoldville at the time of the vote. Even if members of the Parliament were bought by someone or other, it would be the control of force that would be determinant.

Mr. Gray said that he did not know what our limits were in dealing with Hammarskjold but he thought that the UN was taking a peculiar position when it stated that, if Lumumba came back, the UN would be out of the Congo, and yet that the UN had a responsibility to bring Lumumba back. Mr. Gray felt we should do everything we could to change Hammarskjold’s view. If Hammarskjold was worried about Khrushchev, we should give him some assurances. We should use our [Page 541] best persuasive power to convince him that he is not obligated to do something which will result in having the UN kicked out of the Congo. Secretary Herter observed that we were likely to get the same negative reaction from Hammarskjold on this as when we had approached him on the UN’s efforts to prevent the arrest of Lumumba and the relationship of this action, which was very favorable to dangerous elements, to the neutrality of the UN. Secretary Herter pointed out that Guinea had introduced a resolution in the UN calling for the seating of Lumumba’s delegation. The new African states had caucused on this resolution and except for Mali and, possibly, Togo and the Ivory Coast, these states were opposed to the resolution. We doubt that these states would favor the seating of Kasavubu’s representatives but they are definitely against Lumumba. This fact could affect Hammarskjold’s thinking. Secretary Dillon noted that there were indications of disagreement among Hammarskjold’s advisers within the UN Secretariat.

Secretary Franke inquired about progress in moving Western technicians into the Congo. Secretary Herter stated that such movement had now stopped; there was no one that you could deal with in the Congo; there was no government that could make an agreement. Seventeen technicians had got in at the start and these were all still in the Congo. The move to push the Belgians out was bad; eventually, they would have to leave but now they were the only stabilizing force. He stated there had been no indication of an answer to Hammarskjold’s letter to Tshombe. Secretary Dillon noted that this letter had been printed in a Brussels paper. Mr. Dulles pointed out that some Belgian technicians were back in the Congo as a result of invitations from local officials. In one case a UN official had tried to prevent such a Belgian from returning but his efforts had been repulsed by the Congolese official concerned. Secretary Herter said that he had talked with Mr. Palmer, our new Ambassador to Nigeria, a country to which evacuees had moved from the Congo. Many of these evacuees, particularly the missionaries, had now gone back. Mr. McCone noted that mining operations in Katanga continued on a normal basis. Mr. Stans said that the Presbyterians who had returned to their missions in the Congo had found no damage to their property; it remained just as they had left it.

[Page 542]

The National Security Council:2

Noted and discussed recent developments with regard to the situation in the Congo.

Robert H. Johnson3
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Johnson on October 24.
  2. Regarding NSC Action No. 2295, see footnote 3, Document 199.
  3. The paragraph that follows constitutes NSC Action No. 2325, approved by the President on October 26. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.