186. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (McGhee) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Report on Our Recent Efforts With Union Miniere

As you will recall, we have initiated a series of steps involving economic measures designed to put pressure on Tshombe to convince him that he has no other alternative but to carry out the terms of the Kitona Agreement. These steps are as follows:

We have talked to Andre Meyer, who has been in touch with the British interests in the Congo. A report of his efforts is contained in a recent letter to him from Bill Astor, a copy of which is at Tab A.2
Ambassador MacArthur has approached Spaak to urge him to cooperate with us in developing a series of economic measures designed to deny to Tshombe access to tax revenues and duties now being paid to his regime by the Union Miniere and other big companies in Katanga. Spaak has expressed agreement with the desirability of developing such a program, and, while he has raised questions about the practicability of certain aspects, Ambassador MacArthur is continuing discussions with him and his staff. We are making similar approaches to the British and Congolese Governments and the UN to gain their cooperation. A copy of the telegram containing our suggested plan is at Tab B.3
Ambassador MacArthur has approached Spaak to underscore the importance we attach to the Union Miniere’s cooperation with Adoula’s government and to its no longer giving moral or financial support to Tshombe’s secession. A copy of Ambassador MacArthur’s report of his talk with Spaak is at Tab C.4
I have made a parallel approach to the Belgian Ambassador here about the necessity for Union Miniere’s cooperation. A copy of the report of my conversation is at Tab D.5
At our suggestion, Admiral Kirk has talked with Union Miniere and Societe Generale leaders at Brussels to gain their active support.

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This morning the Belgian Ambassador came to see me to convey a report from his Government on the steps that the Union Miniere is prepared to take as a result of our various efforts with them. I am very much encouraged by the Ambassador’s report, the substance of which is as follows:

The Union Miniere has sent one of its Assistant Directors General to Elizabethville to see Tshombe and to stress to him the necessity of his carrying out the Kitona Agreement. He will indicate to Tshombe that if he respects the Kitona Agreement he has a fair chance to remain Katanga’s leader, and further hostilities could probably be avoided. The Societe Generale representative will also talk to all of the Union Miniere leaders in Katanga to impress on them the firm views of Union Miniere leadership in Brussels regarding the necessity for Tshombe to live up to the Kitona Agreement.
The Union Miniere is sending the President of the Belgian Federation of Enterprises in the Congo to Léopoldville on the 8th to make the following official demarche to the Congolese Government on Union Miniere’s behalf:
The Union Miniere assures the Congolese Government of its willingness to cooperate with the latter as soon as arrangements between the Congolese Government and the Katangan authorities have been entered into.
The question of Union Miniere’s obligation to the Central Government with respect to taxes and duties will be discussed.
The Union Miniere is ready to send all its output of copper via Matadi, the Congolese port at the mouth of the Congo River.
Assurances will be given regarding the Union Miniere’s wish to see an agreement be reached between the Congolese Government and the Katangan authorities, which will allow everyone to work in conditions of peace and order.
As soon as the political situation is clarified, the Union Miniere leaders will send a representative to establish direct contact with the Congolese Government.

I had suggested to the Belgian Ambassador that it would be desirable for the Union Miniere to issue a public statement regarding its support for the Kitona Agreement. The Belgian Ambassador reported that the Union Miniere felt it would not be possible to take such a step since they were reluctant to engage in what they considered to be a political act. In view of the encouraging report otherwise that the Belgian Ambassador gave me as summarized above, I did not press this point. I did emphasize to the Ambassador the importance of direct contact between the Union Miniere and the Congolese Government and the hope that this direct contact would be established quickly. I said that this would be an important indication that the Union Miniere was dealing with the established Congolese Government and was dealing with Tshombe only in the capacity as the head of a provincial government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 870G.00/1– 562. Confidential. Drafted by Miller. Also sent to Under Secretary Ball, who initialed and forwarded it to Rusk.
  2. Not printed. The letter from Viscount Astor to New York banker Andre Meyer, dated December 28, set forth his views on the situation in Katanga.
  3. Telegram 1098, Document 179. Tab B was a paper headed “Program of Economic Pressures,” identical in substance to the program set forth in that telegram.
  4. Tab C, not attached to the source text, was a copy of telegram 1206 from Brussels, January 4. (Department of State, Central Files, 870G.00/1–462)
  5. Tab D, not attached to the source text, was a copy of telegram 1662, Document 184.