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

1662. Under Secretary McGhee called in Belgian Ambassador Scheyven January 22 to review situation in Congo in light fast moving situation there and questions GOB might have regarding McGhee’s television remarks December 31 about Union Miniere.3 McGhee explained his remarks represented US position and that remarks required because [Page 352] of press speculation regarding other recent speeches made by Department officials.4 McGhee said GOB should therefore interpret his remarks as desire be conciliatory and constructive, both with respect GOB and Union Miniere. (Pertinent excerpts McGhee’s remarks being sent separately.)5

McGhee then expressed desire speak frankly in light all that was at stake in Congo. He said US considered resumption GOC–GOB relations as very constructive step and that we appreciated GOB’s desire cooperate in development and implementation program of economic measures which Ambassador MacArthur had already discussed in Brussels. However, McGhee continued, we sensed certain reluctance in Union Miniere leadership to recognize necessity for GOC to exercise its rights in Katanga under Loi Fondamentale. McGhee indicated we particularly noted difference in attitude between UMHK leadership in Brussels and Elisabethville, in that UMHK in Brussels appeared unable to get its views across to UMHK in Elisabethville. This situation made it difficult to convince Tshombe he had to live up to Kitona Agreement. Although US and GOB against Katangan secession, Tshombe has not been convinced secession no longer possible, fact which must be gotten across forcefully to him.

McGhee stated US was not seeking persuade Tshombe by force but if Tshombe not persuaded there could be further outbreak of hostilities with serious damage to UMHK installations. UN strong enough, McGhee said, resist any Katangan attacks and would be supported by US airlift. McGhee reiterated resumption hostilities last thing US wished see and that US working with UN every day to prevent such eventuality. Thus, McGhee continued, UMHK stands gain everything by offering cooperate immediately with GOC. We have urged Adoula not to be punitive with respect UMHK’s past dealings with Tshombe. However, fact is Adoula, especially from moment re-establishment GOC–GOB relations, could demand that UMHK treat solely with GOC. McGhee suggested UMHK should take initiative with Adoula by coming out with statement in support Kitona Agreement and volunteering send representative to discuss UMHK–GOC relations with Adoula. McGhee stressed that, as his remarks December 31 suggested, US wished UMHK to play helpful role in current situation Congo but evidence indicated it disposed cooperate only if forced do so. Thus, most effective way convincing Tshombe that Katanga secession was thing of past, and for preserving UMHK interests for benefit owners and as positive [Page 353] and constructive element in Congo future, would be for UMHK to take initiative in regularizing its relations with GOC.

Scheyven expressed appreciation McGhee’s frankness; said UMHK represented only part of Societe Generale which had widespread interests throughout Congo. Societe Generale thus not in favor Katanga secession as realize effect it could have on their interests elsewhere in Congo. Scheyven said he quite convinced UMHK not in favor Katanga secession and, while elements of UMHK in Elisabethville might feel differently, it unlikely UMHK leadership did so.

Regarding McGhee’s suggestion for UMHK initiative, Scheyven expressed concern UMHK statement approving Kitona would be seen as admission it had favored secession in past and said Union Miniere did not believe it appropriate take political actions. McGhee questioned this and suggested such statement would be logical sequence of recent UMHK statement against secession. McGhee pointed out press report that Union Minere official Brazzaville had circulated weakened Kitona Agreement.

After Scheyven reviewed UN military action Katanga along familiar lines, McGhee emphasized our opposition to resumption hostilities but reiterated that any attempt by Tshombe to resume secessionist status absolutely intolerable to US, to UN, and to many other governments which were aware of all that was at stake in Congo. Scheyven said GOB had worked hard convince Tshombe there was no alternative to implementation Kitona Agreement. McGhee assured him we accepted this and appreciated it but that we concerned UMHK holding back. In response Scheyven observation that ANC “attacks” against Tshombe’s forces in North Katanga placing Tshombe in difficult position. McGhee assured Scheyven US was trying restrain Adoula and that we wished preserve Tshombe as constructive and moderate leader in Katanga. McGhee also suggested that Tshombe’s bargaining position was strong because everyone concerned wished see Kitona Agreement implemented.

McGhee closed by expressing hope Scheyven would convey report this discussion to his Government, stressing our desirability edesire] to offer constructive advice to UMHK in their future interest.

You should bring these views Spaak’s attention soonest.

Summary being sent Léopoldville for Embassy and Elizabethville.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/1–262. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Miller, cleared by Whitehouse and Wallner, and approved by McGhee. Repeated to USUN, London, and Paris.
  2. Miller’s memorandum of the conversation is ibid.
  3. In a television interview; extracts were sent to Brussels in telegram 1664, January 2. (Ibid., 855.25/1–262)
  4. Reference is to the Rowan speech cited in footnote 4, Document 183, and a speech given by Williams in Detroit on December 27; for text of the latter, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 874–881.
  5. Not found.
  6. Not found.