119. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1
721. For Secretary. Just saw Adoula at my request for 45 minutes. He received me alone while Gizenga sat in pitch-dark outer room.
I pretexted telecon with Secretary to confirm a rapport with him which I expected would be under strain to extent he might have been persuaded we throttling UN and interceding for Katanga. Claimed Secretary said world’s eyes were on Adoula now since tragic death of Secretary General and was up to him, Adoula, to keep his country from flames of civil war. The Secretary was aware of pressures to which Adoula was subject and I had assured Secretary Adoula was the man to contain them so long as situation did not deteriorate drastically. I told [Page 230] him of reports of unrest in military camps, brought him up to date on developments and offered to continue to pass him news (in whirl of events GOC seems get information last if at all). I said decision for civil war the highest and most grievous any nation could make. It was of course within the supreme authority of a state when all else failed but not one would choose it without heeding all concerned and trying all means to avoid it. Pointed out that civil war in this case was entirely illogical, logistically infeasible and likely indecisive. Said military situation in Katanga not fundamentally deteriorated. UN casualties very few and single Katanga fighter plane was causing ravages far out of proportion to Tshombe strength.
Assured him US policy unchanged in favor Congolese unity but claimed this entirely consistent with negotiations. It did not necessarily mean we committed to or wanted to save skin of Mr. Tshombe. US had little financial interest in Katanga, did not need it but Congo did. Civil war could only lose it or destroy it.
Said that if UN is to negotiate it seemed to me it must do so from firm position and told him frankly that I hoped and thought UN mobility would be strengthened. I said necessary in eyes of world that Hammarskjöld’s work be carried on and contact established and maintained. Informed him Linner in view latest extravagant pretensions of Tshombe and in view his own responsibilities here was sending number two man Khiari to establish contact. Said that if it turned out that Tshombe’s claims were too great, he, we and world would at least know that much.
Adoula obviously heartened by sentiments I attributed to Secretary. (Hope that these or something like them can be confirmed to me by Secretary or even President in urgent message to Adoula. I have set forth my representation at length in order to show line I am taking in situation moving too rapidly for instructions to catch up.) Adoula highly appreciative US policy, recognized we had no financial or other interest in Katanga, wanted to assure me he doing all possible to prevent civil war.
He acknowledged pressures on him and said he had been able to “dam” them and only hoped be able to continue to do so. The government or chamber (I am not sure which) had nevertheless urged immediate action. He therefore had hit upon and commenced “procedures”, a series of delays which he believed would work.
Said he hoped we would help him in this game if possible. I answered we would do all we properly could. With respect to present unrest in military camps and in population he said he believed Mobutu had situation in hand at least for present. I queried him on coup d’etat or assassination. He said he was well aware these possibilities and would welcome any intelligence from US.[Page 231]
Adoula more in sorrow than in anger regretted UK “action against UN”. I tried to mitigate his feeling on this point. He said he had never asked UN to undertake war in Katanga, that UN had never intended war against Katanga, that UN had urged him constantly to prevent civil war, that no one on this side wanted war but that Munongo and Tshombe had prepared the combustible to which least spark set fire.
As to military situation he said it was absolutely necessary that the fighter plane be neutralized. He thinks SYG was shot down. I said I hoped some measures would be taken.
In closing I said we might be able from time to time to help him with communications to Katanga. He pleased at this; said not for moment but he might call on us.
I was reassured to find in Adoula strength, calm and good will. Unhappily he is dejected by tragic miscarriage Katanga events and by Hammarskjöld’s death. He also obviously thinks British are anti-UN and for impure reasons.
Since dictating above I gave Linner gist. He pleased to note Adoula interposed no objection to Khiari mission despite Adoula earlier objection expressed to Linner to any re-opening of cease-fire talks outside Congo. For record, Linner would like a note of this part of our conversation which I shall give him.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–1861. Secret; Niact. Received at 8:10 a.m. on September 19 and repeated to USUN, Brussels, London, Paris, and Brazzaville.↩