95. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium 0

941. Following based uncleared memorandum conversation:1

[Page 261]

Belgian Ambassador2 reviewed with Secretary February 12 developments of Round Table Conference on Congo,3 sessions of which he had attended during recent trip to Brussels. Emphasized that Belgian Govt had made decision highest political level that situation required grant of independence to Congo and that in cooperation Congolese leaders Belgians intended do everything possible make transition to independence orderly and effective. Ambassador specifically asked whether US thought Belgians were moving too fast. In this connection, he mentioned reported comment of Consul General in Leopoldville4 to effect he thought Belgians were in fact going too fast towards independence and said he assumed Consul General had spoken under instructions.

Secretary assured him that Consul General had not spoken under instructions. Secretary said that Department considered that Belgian Govt was handling difficult situation with great wisdom and flexibility. He added that from over-all point of view it would have been better if there had been more time to work out complicated process of setting up new independent state, but he realized that this time did not exist because of strength of forces pressing towards independence.

Ambassador said his Government earnestly hoped that American private interests would invest in Congo with of course necessary guarantees and safeguards. He suggested US Govt, might encourage such investments. He added his Govt, hoped that US would understand and support Belgian efforts. Secretary replied that we viewed Belgian efforts most sympathetically and that in deciding what we could do in present situation we wanted to consult with Belgian authorities. He recognized that this was preoccupying problem for Belgians and hoped that they would feel free to talk to us at any time. He considered that the Congolese would need to look to Belgium for assistance and support for some time.

Comment: We assume that comment of Consul General to which Ambassador referred might very well have been query designed elicit Belgian comments on developments towards independence.5 Brussels and Leopoldville should however find appropriate occasion allay any possible Belgian doubts this question by using line Secretary took with Ambassador.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 755A.00/2–1260. Confidential. Drafted and approved by Cameron; cleared with Ferguson and with S/S. Also sent to Léopoldville.
  2. Dated February 12. (Ibid.)
  3. Louis Scheyven.
  4. Representatives of the major Congolese political parties and the Belgian Government, who met in Brussels, January 20–February 20, had agreed on January 27 that the Congo would become independent on June 30, 1960.
  5. John D. Tomlinson.
  6. Tomlinson replied in telegram 184 from Léopoldville, February 16, that he had never made such a statement. (Department of State, Central Files, 755A.00/2–1660)