128. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1

630. Paris pass USRO. Embassy telegram 597.2 Congo. Believe Department telegrams 767,3 7684 and 7695 largely overtaken by time and events insofar as approach to Spaak is concerned. As reported in Embassy telegrams 562,6 5937 and 597 Spaak has been taking very constructive and helpful position re Congo and Katanga despite his private outburst to us September 14 against what he considered UN duplicity. If UN and US act in way that Belgians believe shows understanding of Belgium’s legitimate interests and position in Congo, we think there is no serious problem of anti-Americanism insofar as Spaak and GOB are concerned because while bitter about UN action, Spaak continues convinced that Belgium’s interest in Congo can only be preserved through reintegration of Katanga and continued presence of UN. He also agrees every appropriate and feasible step must be taken to try to strengthen Adoula’s hand to prevent Gizengist takeover and to maximize chances of peaceful reintegration of Katanga. In this connection he has been pressing Union Miniere and Societe Generale vigorously to use their influence with Tshombe for peaceful reintegration of Katanga. To summarize Spaak agrees generally with points and argumentation in Department telegram 768 except third paragraph dealt with below.

In addition to series of talks on Congo that Ambassador has had with Spaak and other cabinet ministers and top officials and businessmen, Embassy has at all levels been endeavoring to educate Belgians. In addition to off-record talks with Libre Belgique and other press, Ambassador [Page 247] also has personally had series conversations with Robiliart and Union Miniere and Societe Generale leaders who agree with our view although Robiliart admits privately that some of their people in Katanga do not always agree with Union Miniere Brussels and are not fully controllable. This seems borne out by Elisabethville’s 329,8 which reports that Van Weyenbergh showed open contempt for views of Robiliart and Union Miniere officials in Brussels, saying “Union Miniere here.” We are continuing our efforts but Union Miniere is not monolithic organization controlled in Brussels and key to Union Miniere cooperation lies also in Katanga not just here. However, Van Weyenbergh (whose comments Ambassador passed on to Robiliart without divulging source) has been recalled to Brussels and Ambassador has been shown letter and telegrams (by Robiliart) dated September 27 and 29 to Van Weyenbergh’s temporary successor Wallen who was sent from Brussels instructing latter use all influence with Tshombe to get him meet with Adoula and reintegrate Katanga into Congo.

Re third paragraph Department telegram 768 we believe argumentation is most dubious and to use it would be counter-productive. To try to argue fighting in Katanga was in effect started not by UN use of force to expel mercenaries and to arrest ministers of Katanga Government (latter GOB thinks was not in UN mandate), but by Katangans because they resisted use of force by UN “apparently with assistance of Belgian nationals” would be construed as an attempt on our part to pervert the true facts, would be deeply resented and would simply add to anti-American sentiment here since Belgians would consider it (A) not in keeping with facts, and (B) an attempt by US to saddle Belgium with responsibility for present Katanga strife. In this connection, it is as well known in Brussels, London and elsewhere as it is in Elisabethville and Léopoldville (Léopoldville’s 507) that in a number of instances, Katangan forces resisted courageously without Belgian or other white mercenaries. Furthermore, on basis of reports from Belgian, British and other sources it also generally believed here that in addition to Belgian mercenaries there are substantial number of French, South Africans and Rhodesians. Belgians believe press reports from American and other correspondents that French officer mercenaries with Indochina and Algeria experience among most fanatical and effective in resisting UN and that Belgian mercenaries are actually a minority of total.

We believe that key to future Belgian sentiment re both US and UN will depend primarily on outcome of Katanga crisis and on US and UN attitude towards Belgium. If Congo situation deteriorates to point [Page 248] where Belgium’s legitimate economic interests are lost there will inevitably be strong reaction, not only against us for supporting UN, but also against Lefevre and Spaak for same reason. No argumentation will lessen that sentiment with a certain sector of opinion here and we will have to ride it out. If in Belgian eyes it appears UN is trying to shift responsibility for present grave situation in Katanga from shoulders of its own officials, notably O’Brien, to the shoulders of GOB and Belgian people by blaming Belgian mercenaries for Katanga upheaval and failure of UN action, there will be strong and bitter reaction against UN. If they believe we are supporting UN campaign to shift blame on to Belgium, result will of course be increase in anti-American sentiment. In other words, development of Belgian sentiment adverse to Belgian-American relations and our interests in Congo and NATO will not depend on arguments which at this juncture are put forward as to responsibility of Katanga imbroglio, but in final analysis on what develops in Congo and on what we do and say to show understanding of and support for legitimate Belgian economic interests there. In this connection, efforts of Ambassador Gullion and Embassy Léopoldville to make both UN and GOB clearly differentiate between helpful and fully cooperative attitude of GOB and nefarious activities of Belgian, French, South African and other ultras are greatly appreciated and should prove most helpful.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–3061. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to USUN, London, Paris, Léopoldville, and Elisabethville.
  2. Telegram 597, September 28, stated that, although Spaak was initially enraged at what he considered U.N. duplicity, his view of the Congo situation was much the same as the U.S. view. He shared the same basic objective of reintegrating Katanga into the Congo and had an open mind as to tactics to bring Tshombe back into the fold. (Ibid., 770G.00/9–2861)
  3. Document 125.
  4. See footnote 6, Document 125.
  5. Sent to Léopoldville as telegram 517, September 27. It suggested that Gullion point out to the Congolese Government the desirability of containing the growth of anti-Belgian sentiment. (Department of State, Central Files, 770.G.00/9–2761)
  6. See footnote 3, Document 125.
  7. Telegram 593, September 27, reported that, in a September 27 conversation, Spaak expressed deep concern about the Congo situation. He had sent Tshombe several messages in the last few days urging him to have constructive talks with the Léopoldville government. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–2761)
  8. Telegram 329 from Elisabethville, September 8, reported a conversation with the head of Union Miniere operations in Katanga. (Ibid., 325.70G/9–861)