114. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

663. Leopoldville pass Elizabethville as Dept’s 275. Following statement re Katanga made by US spokesman with approval of President:2

[Here follows the text of a statement issued by the Department of State that day expressing support for efforts to obtain a cease-fire in Katanga; it is printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, page 832.]

For Léopoldville: In informing SYG urgently of above, you should make following points:

Statement reflects our continued strong support of UN in Congo, but is not intended as US endorsement specific military operation which has been undertaken by UN in Katanga.
We do not want UN pushed out of or defeated in Katanga since we strongly believe that effective UN presence in Katanga is essential if Katanga is to play useful and constructive role within unified Congo and if situation is not to be created which will encourage separatism and weaken Adoula.
However, we believe there must be prompt cease-fire, even if this means UN military operation falls short of achieving its full objective of rooting out by military means all mercenaries in Katanga. We cannot support UN in any drawn out military operation requiring considerable bloodshed in order to completely force removal all mercenaries. In short, we believe that circumstances have evolved in such way that it is necessary to stop short the scale of offensive military operations that full prosecution of UN mandate now seems to require.
Apart from cease-fire UN must create basis for constructive talks with Tshombe and then promote actively talks between Tshombe [Page 224] and GOC. To this end seems reasonable raise question replacement or reassignment O’Brien, Tombelaine and Bocheley-Davidson with persons who able gain confidence of both sides which seems none of three able do. In case of O’Brien this could be done by placing another UN official in charge Katanga operation over him.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.70G/9–1661. Confidential; Priority; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Sisco and Cleveland, cleared by Vance, and approved by Rusk. Rusk’s staff assistant Walter L. Cutler initialed for him. Also sent to Léopoldville, London, Paris, and USUN.
  2. A September 16 memorandum from Cleveland to Rusk indicates that the President called him on the telephone that morning, directed the issuance of a public statement urging a cease-fire, and expressed the general views stated in this telegram. Kennedy “repeated several times that we must not let the UN ‘get licked’ by Katanga with all the adverse consequences that might have but also emphasized that ‘we should not push Katanga any further’.” Cleveland noted that Kennedy, unlike Stevenson, wanted to bring the situation to an end as quickly as possible, even if it meant the United Nations did not achieve its objective of routing out the mercenaries and bringing Katanga into a federated Congo. Stevenson thought the United Nations should be given more time to try to carry out its mission. (Ibid., 332.70G/9– 1661)