270. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State 0
1292. Although I have not yet seen memo conversation which Canup was to prepare, I wish comment on visit Elisabethville and conversations with Tshombe.1[Page 601]
Was met with full military honors by Tshombe and we drove to his residence together. In following one hour conversation with Tshombe and four ministers, Tshombe voiced complaints regarding US attitude. Said Katangan independence was fact and they would never resume political association with Congo although prepared make arrangements financial help to brothers in Congo. I reiterated US policy respect for integrity of Congo and told him I saw no likelihood that any country would be prepared near future recognize Katangan independence. He criticized US failure show interest in 1961 Elisabethville Fair, to which I replied that government funds for such purposes limited and usually committed year or more in advance and US Government just cannot pressure private business to participate. Told him I would raise question again with Department. Comment: I consider it would be useful participate in some way for political reasons and because Russians have reserved considerable area for their exhibit.
Tshombe denounced Belgians for failure support Katangan independence which I determined meant Belgian Government policy. Belgian colons, led principally by Union Miniere, obviously encouraged Tshombe in separatism which impression confirmed by later talks with others in Elisabethville. Further accused US of being in league with Belgian Government to stifle bid for Katangan independence. I told him US-Belgian relations at all time low ten days ago and that his charge of collusion was totally without foundation.
I asked what he thought of roundtable with other provincial leaders who are anti-Lumumba, to which he replied he would have nothing to do with it. Said he considered Kasavubu weak and ineffectual and he should have taken lead in ousting Lumumba from beginning. I said our hope is that right thinking Congolese leaders should work out solution to political impasse referring to provisional nature fundamental law; and fact Parliament constituted as primarily Constituent Assembly and only provisional as legislative body. Tshombe insisted fundamental law “imposed” by Belgium.
While I had feeling Tshombe might be exhibiting public profile for benefit of his four ministers, my net impression at end of visit was most pessimistic. Propped up by Nineteenth Century Belgian advisers and growing to like the attributes of kingship, it seemed to me Tshombe was hardening position of separatism.[Page 602]
In later talk with Berendsen (UN) he told me there had been no contact with Tshombe or ministers for over one month. He too was discouraged over prospect obtaining Tshombe’s support for effort to reunite Congo politically. Berendsen is level-headed sensible man. Has been doing best he could under most difficult circumstances.
Yesterday I saw Dayal for one hour and a half at his request and gave him straight synthesis of conversations with Tshombe and my impression as stated above. I added only possible good I saw coming out of trip was possibility that Tshombe might have been shocked into recognition of reality which would eventually destroy his concept of a Shangri-la in the Katanga. Dayal said he had just received a telegram from Berendsen stating that Tshombe and his ministers has asked for conversations and that atmosphere had cleared somewhat. I hope this is good sign.
Further, reports that Kasavubu has obtained Tshombe’s agreement for meeting may also have been conditioned by firmness with which I dealt with Tshombe’s attacks. I might add Kibwe and Monongo were most violent in attacking US policy, are xenophobes and lack any comprehension of the facts of international life. They are definitely bad influence on Tshombe.
Aside from these acrimonious substantive discussions, Tshombe could not have been more friendly or pleasant and the other aspects of the visit were very pleasant. I have the impression that few if any people have talked quite so frankly with Tshombe since independence.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/11–2860. Confidential. Repeated to Brussels, Elisabethville, and USUN.↩
- Timberlake visited Elisabethville November 21–23. Canup reported the conversation in telegram 260 from Elisabethville, November 25, which states that it took place on November 22. (Ibid., 770G.00/11–2560) Under Secretary of State for Management Loy Henderson, who was visiting a number of African countries, had a brief, unplanned conversation with Tshombé on November 20. Timberlake was scheduled to arrive on Henderson’s plane, and Tshombé had gone to the airport to meet him. Telegram 258 from Elisabethville, November 25, reported that conversation, in which Tshombé was critical of U.S. policy. Henderson pointed out that his mission showed U.S. concern with African developments but referred Tshombé to Timberlake for detailed discussion of U.S. policy. (Ibid., 110.13–HE/11–2460)↩