91. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Courtesy Call of Mr. Wigny


  • Mr. Pierre Wigny, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Constant Schuurmans, Chef du Cabinet of the Minister
  • Mr. Jean de Bassompierre, Counselor, Embassy of Belgium
  • The Acting Secretary
  • WE—Mr. Cameron
  • WE—Mr. Chadbourn

The Belgian Foreign Minister, Mr. Wigny, paid a courtesy call on the Acting Secretary on May 13. He took the occasion to mention briefly a few of the matters foremost in his mind.

Mr. Wigny said that, while he hardly needed to reiterate Belgium’s fidelity to NATO, he nonetheless thought that it was useful to the West to explore outstanding issues with the Soviets.

He briefly expressed some concern about recent developments in the institutional organizations of the Six.

Mr. Wigny then turned to the Congo and made these points: [Page 254]

The Government’s proclamation as well as the special message of the King announcing the new policy for the Congo1 had been based on the results of the inquiry made by the multi-partisan Working Group on Congo Policy. The proclamation had been planned for some time and was not prompted in any way by the riots in Leopoldville.
The riots were caused principally by unemployment in Leopoldville and by tribal tensions. Further, the previous government in Brussels had unfortunately let matters drag with the result that there is now much wasted time to make up.
Economic development was going forward as scheduled, the principal project being the first stage of the Inga hydroelectric installation on the Congo.
The Government plans to push ahead as quickly as feasible in implementing its policy towards the Congo, the touchstone of which is “interdependence.”
The Belgian Government hopes the U.S. will follow the implementation of the Belgian program with sympathetic understanding. In the event Belgium fails, it is only too obvious that the Soviets will try to fill the vacuum thus created.

Mr. Dillon replied that, as Secretary Dulles had told Mr. Wigny last October, the U.S. was following with great interest Belgian efforts in the Congo. We believe that the program has a real opportunity to succeed. This will depend to some extent, of course, on how it is carried out. If the Congo is to evolve in a way that will encourage the retention of its ties with the mother country, the manner in which assistance is provided will be extremely important. It will probably be necessary, for example, to make sure that the Congolese are presented with believable and realizable goals along each step of the way, rather than with a distant future promise that seems unattainable. Mr. Dillon said he was sure that Mr. Wigny appreciated this point, and added that he believed the Belgian Government was on the right road in its Congo program.

[Here follows discussion of other matters.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by Officer in Charge of Swiss-Benelux Affairs Philip H. Chadbourn.
  2. Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens announced the government’s program of reforms for the Congo on January 13. King Baudouin broadcast a radio message supporting the reforms on the same day.