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

683. Department pass Hyannisport. Prior hours conference with Hammarskjöld this evening2 had sent him earlier in day letter on general US attitude on Katanga crisis as we urged it on Adoula and Hammarskjöld last few days, together with gist of Department’s instructions Deptels 415 and 423.3

We had also conferred earlier with Lansdowne4 and UK Ambassador Riches5 who told us that prior to their presentation SYG had informed them of his decision to try to enter personally into negotiation with Tshombe.

At outset our meeting SYG had me read draft of his project for negotiation (see Embtel 677)6 which he said was then before Adoula Cabinet.

[Page 225]

SYG anticipated pitfalls. Principal problem was whether GOC would accept it. He had just concluded half hour discussion with Adoula. Latter was not happy but said he would undertake to present proposition to his Cabinet and that he would in effect “go along”. SYG indicated what he was hoping for from Adoula was acquiescence if not approval.

In discussion with Tshombe, Hammarskjöld said would point out that Tshombe had previously tried make contact for cease-fire and failed. UN had since then tried several times to make contact and failed. SYG now proposed he and Tshombe seek cease-fire.

Settlement should be one which left future in Congolese hands. Solution imposed by force was impermanent. UN wished to promote law and order, prevent civil war and to evacuate foreign military technicians.

He thought Tshombe shared these objectives and was in accord with the principles of pertinent UN Resolution. He would say to Tshombe that secession of Katanga hardly consonant these purposes and there should be no trigger to civil war arising out of separatism.

Foreign political and military advisers should go in accordance with UN Resolution. Tshombe should take steps with gendarmerie to help eliminate them.

Hate propaganda and broadcast should be halted.

Any other frictions which could lead to fighting should be removed.

SYG said that getting contact with Tshombe was of course not assured. Read message from O’Brien indicating Tshombe was supposed today to make contact but Tshombe “advisers” had warned of trap. SYG recognized Tshombe might well be prisoner.

In response my queries he said he was quite aware Tshombe might be seeking merely the most secure protection wherever it was and that Tshombe probably had very little credit anywhere in Congo. He said there was some symbolic value however in that Tshombe was after all a Provincial President. He said that Adoula while extremely hostile to Tshombe believed it was possible for discussion to take place.

I asked whether Adoula had formulated any requests or conditions. SYG replied in negative and said if GOC accepted his project their only requirement would be that Central Government take no part in the contact.

SYG then turned to US representations as contained in Deptels 415 and 423. The length of his stay in Congo would be decided from day-to-day and would be as long as his presence here could do any good. This had priority over GA attendance at opening GA.

[Page 226]

As to US pressure for negotiations he believed his Tshombe project was the answer.

As to “dismay” by US that UN should take such “serious” step he said firmly there had been a concrete risk of civil war if there had been no break in Katanga situation. However UN had not entered Katanga to overturn regime. It had intended merely to take actions which he thought had been generally approved to set stage for peaceful integration. (These were in extension or similar to those taken on August 28, which had gone through with no difficulty.) UN people here had obviously expected to be able to repeat the coup. Everybody had been surprised at extent to which operation developed. SYG again insisted he had not known of operation until he reached Accra and read a Reuters dispatch. (SYG created impression he could be more critical of miscalculations made in field if he were not speaking in presence of his advisers.)

At this point we received news of Adoula Cabinet acceptance of Tshombe project and his careful Scandinavian calm gave way to something like jubilation. Since Adoula had said negotiations could take place “anywhere” SYG interpreted this to mean GOC actually anxious to see termination of struggle.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1761. Secret; Niact. Repeated to USUN, Brussels, Brazzaville, Paris, and London.
  2. September 16.
  3. A copy of Gullion’s September 16 letter to Hammarskjöld is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 84, FRC 64 A 5321, Léopoldville Embassy Files: Lot 63 F 85, 320—Congo-UN, September 1961. Telegram 423 is printed as Document 112. Telegram 415, September 15, stated that in a discussion of the Congo situation that day, Rusk and Lord Home had agreed that Hammarskjöld should remain in the Congo until the crisis was resolved. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1561)
  4. U.K. Minister of State for Colonial Affairs Lord Lansdowne. For Macmillan’s description of Lansdowne’s mission, see Pointing the Way, 1959–1961, pp. 443–444.
  5. Sir Derek Riches.
  6. Telegram 677 from Léopoldville, September 16, transmitted the text of a draft message from Hammarskjöld to Tshombe proposing a cease-fire and a meeting between the two. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1661) For text of the message, dated September 16, similar in substance to the draft but with a revised paragraph (7) proposing Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, as a meeting place, see Public Papers of the Secretaries-General, vol. V, pp. 569–571.