106. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1
420. Congo. Embtel 409.2 I met with Spaak last evening to discuss Linner visit (reftel) and general Congo situation. Spaak said Linner was “charmant et gentil” and he appreciated frankness with which he had spoken. However, from what Linner had told him, he understood UN was seriously contemplating major moves, including action against Munongo, which went far beyond UN mandate. What troubled him was that UN did not seem to have any definite plan for peaceful political reintegration of Katanga by GOC at Léopoldville and was groping, improvising and playing it by ear. This could be very dangerous and result in disaster if any serious mistake was made.
Spaak said he most concerned by this situation. He also has related problem in that Belgian elements opposing his policy of full cooperation with UN are using present unstable and deteriorating situation in Katanga to attack and undermine GOB. For example, Union Miniere has just written him letter pointing out GOB policy (supporting UN) responsible for bringing about instability in Katanga and grave threat to Belgian economic and industrial activities there, et cetera. This letter clearly for record to provide basis for future attack against GOB if Katanga situation not straightened out.
Spaak said present deterioration in Katanga comes at particularly bad time for GOB, which must face serious domestic political situation (reported separately) over A) fiscal reforms; B) GOB measures re Flemish-Walloon problem, and, to lesser extent, C) legislation to deal with ailing coal industry. He explained Congo problem added to domestic political problems could jeopardize future of present government.
Reverting to Congo, Spaak said UN and GOC pressing him to withdraw Belgian Consuls from Elisabethville. While he would like to cooperate with UN and Léopoldville on this, he does not see how it possible to withdraw Consuls this juncture because if he does so Katangans may refuse to permit return of any Belgian Consul accredited only to GOC in Léopoldville and it impossible in present disorderly situation in Katanga to deprive many thousands of Belgian residents there of services [Page 209] and assistance of a Consul. Belgian public, Parliamentary and press opinion would strongly oppose any such gamble.
Comment: Spaak was depressed over Congo and much troubled because he knows of no UN and GOC plan for peaceful political reintegration of Katanga. He fears situation may deteriorate to point of chaos unless there constructive and well-planned program, and his concern doubtless augmented by criticism and attacks against him by certain powerful interests in Belgium.
In light Linner request in reference telegram I have no objection to Gullion informing Linner of Spaak reaction to Linner’s visit and general gist of my talk with Spaak if, but only if, Linner will keep this information confidential for his own background [9 lines of source text not declassified].
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1261. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Léopoldville, Elisabethville, and USUN.↩
- Telegram 409 from Brussels, September 11, reported a conversation on September 9 between MacArthur and Linner in which Linner described his meeting that day with Spaak. (Ibid., 770G.00/9–1161)↩