96. Editorial Note

On February 18, Ambassador William Burden, who was in Washington for consultations, met with Under Secretary Douglas Dillon, Deputy Under Secretary Raymond Hare, and 18 other Department officials to discuss steps the United States might take in light of the Congo’s coming independence. Burden urged that the United States “avoid a repetition of the Guinean experience when the Soviet Bloc moved into a vacuum after the French had left.” He recommended increasing the staff of the consulate general in Léopoldville so that it could begin to function as an embassy at the time of independence, with an experienced career officer as ambassador, and he suggested several possible steps to provide economic assistance to the Congo, arguing that as the third most populous African country with “a potentially explosive political situation,” it required “unusual attention.” There was some discussion of this, with Under Secretary Dillon observing that the Special Africa Fund, one of the possible sources of aid for the Congo, was part of the special assistance fund which had been reduced from the administration’s original request. At the conclusion of the meeting, he asked Deputy Under Secretary Hare to coordinate action on the various problems associated with the Congo’s coming independence.