109. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

658. Saw Hammarskjöld, Linner and Wieschhoff 1245 today.2 Stated it was now essential I receive latest estimate situation Katanga and indication their assessment and future plans. From certain alarming reports that had been brought to my attention,3 said it appeared conflict might become critical, and US had to think what it should do. Asked what were UN military plans.

SYG and colleagues unfailingly optimistic. Stated Kibwe re-appeared this morning and promised meet again 1300 with O’Brien to prepare subsequent meeting between O’Brien and Tshombe to arrange cease-fire. This agreement would be on basis status quo but UN mission must be accepted, i.e., foreign officers must be expelled from Katanga. There was no question of UN withdrawing from positions now held nor renouncing mission. Optimism re cease-fire based on Katangese battle fatigue and fact that once local cease-fire can be arranged, UN believes Katangese will assist in removing Belgian officers. Once cease-fire achieved military situation will be satisfactory for UN convinced it can assure local security.

Problem then becomes political and UN objective will be to bring about reconciliation and reintegration Katanga into Congo. Bocheley4 with two moderates will be available for preliminary discussions and UN will do everything possible to maintain open door between Léopoldville and Elisabethville to permit Bantu palaver.

Again reverting to military developments Hammarskjöld said most if not all attacks on UN have occurred during night. These plus ground snipers and sneak air attacks are principally terroristic uncoordinated actions of desperadoes. Sniping has diminished. Situation tense [Page 215] yesterday at Kamina where Katangese appeared unsuccessfully to have committed bulk of local forces available. Arrival six Ferret cars plus Swedish reinforcements it is hoped will stabilize area.

Re security Consulate Hammarskjöld reverted absence day attacks and therefore believed none would occur.

Mentioned report of Consuls to Spaak (Embtel 638)5 on military situation and described it as gross exaggeration. Re anti-UN propaganda Katanga stated it shows lack of any political judgment and military seem striking out blindly in uncoordinated fashion.

Re my question on possible broadening of military action which I purposely did not spell out, he stated there appeared be no action against foreigners and again reiterated that UN military seem capable handling situation. Pointed out Baluba refugees present problem but that so far had behaved remarkably well and had caused no special headache. European refugees had not yet appeared in number and there seemed be no panic.

I asked if cease-fire could not be negotiated what would be military situation. Linner and Wieschhoff agreed with SYG UN military would prevail and would take initiative which they had purposely avoided doing so far in order minimize bloodshed and destruction. In order further probe military situation I asked if his military required any special equipment if cease-fire not attained and he said he did not think so but MacEoin would know. I emphasized I not making any offers.

Tackling broad political questions and misgivings Department’s 387,6 SYG began with eulogy Adoula whom he described as most purposeful, energetic and capable African he knew with possible exception Nigerian Prime Minister. From extensive meetings he has had with Cabinet he is convinced Adoula definitely dominates his colleagues and is personally the leader of his country. Then said he wanted to speak frankly and in confidence to me. Said if UN had not acted in Katanga Adoula would have been under tremendous pressure from Gizengists. If UN can clean up Katanga situation Adoula by far greatest winner. UN action unquestionably on behalf moderates for Katangese participation is key to Congolese balance of power. If Katanga can be integrated Adoula commander of situation. Wieschhoff added if UN had not acted [Page 216] he feared Lundula would take action in his own hands thus presenting counter with Gizengist National Movement which would have put Adoula in difficult position and would have resulted wide-spread civil war for ANC Léopoldville could it have stood by.

SYG said all UN elements deeply regretted Bocheley designation and that Linner had done everything possible oppose it. They shared our concern and were watching Bocheley carefully. Bocheley currently under O’Brien control and they hoped it would continue. Linner referred to moves taken by UN rout out bad actors and provocateurs in Stanleyville camp, and UN share in getting and keeping Gizenga in Léopoldville (at least this long). I mentioned briefly Belgian demarche (Deptel 401).7 Hammarskjöld expressed understanding Belgian difficulties but said they would make fools of themselves if matter were to be raised UN, particularly view role individual Belgians have played last 72 hours. This connection said two Belgians who led attack Jadotville now being interrogated.

During dictating foregoing have just received word from Canup they anticipate Tshombe-O’Brien meeting 1800 Léopoldville time.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1561. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Brussels, USUN, London, Paris, Salisbury, and Brazzaville.
  2. Telegram 413 to Léopoldville, September 15, indicates that Gullion reported the gist of the conversation in a telephone conversation with Fredericks that morning. (Ibid.) Hammarskjöld arrived in Léopoldville on September 13 for what was intended to be a brief visit. Telegram 713 from USUN, September 12, reported that Cordier had stated that day that the Secretary-General planned to leave the Congo on September 17 unless Tshombe came to Léopoldville for talks. He said it was hoped that Adoula could use Hammarskjöld’s presence to give Tshombe a face-saving opportunity to do this. (Ibid., 770G.00/9–1261)
  3. Telegrams dated September 15 from Elisabethville and Léopoldville reported continuing fighting in Katanga, including attacks by a Fouga Magister jet fighter on the Elisabethville airport and the Kamina airfield. (All ibid., 770G.00/9–1561)
  4. E. Bocheley-Davidson had been appointed Commissioner for Katanga by the Congolese Government.
  5. Telegram 638 from Léopoldville, September 14, transmitted the text of a message sent via Brussels from the Swedish, Greek, Belgian, Portuguese, and French consular representatives in Elisabethville to their respective governments. The message described the situation in Elisabethville as “very grave” with bombardment of the Belgian and Portuguese Consulates. (Ibid., 770G.00/9–1461)
  6. Telegram 387 to Léopoldville, September 13, criticized the appointment of Bocheley-Davidson as Commissioner for Katanga, calling him an “extreme leftist radical.” (Ibid., 770G.00/9– 1361)
  7. Telegram 401 to Léopoldville, September 14, stated that the Belgian Ambassador had conveyed a suggestion from Spaak for U.S., U.K., and French consultation to work out a position for the Security Council to assure U.N. action for the protection of Europeans in Katanga. (Ibid., 330/9–1461)