198. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1
1965. Léopoldville 1932.2 Dept welcomes Societe Generale acceptance principle Katanga reintegration and stated desire take steps further this result. Appears from Van der Straeten attitude in discussions Ambassador Gullion that when it comes to practical issues he still seems unconvinced Katanga secession ended. Agree general approach taken Léopoldville and suggest Brussels use following additional arguments in talks with Van der Straeten and other company officials.3
- Katanga never recognized by any nation as independent state, and signature Kitona ends fiction Katanga secession.
- We recognize double taxation problem for Katanga companies as long as Tshombe insists on collecting taxes and duties. However, Katanga companies should be careful demonstrate duress under which [Page 373] they pay Tshombe if they want avoid accusation connivance attempted secession.
- Since GOC recognized as only legal government Congo by all nations, questions relating division tax revenues between provincial (including Katanga) authorities and central government are internal political questions and Societe Generale or any Katanga company should not attempt judge relative merits. We assume central government will treat all provinces equitably re division revenues, but this not our business nor of Societe Generale.
- All Katanga exports subject in principle to claim by GOC for duties and taxes paid Katanga whatever route chosen by shippers. Resumption some shipments through Matadi would be political gesture and might lead to economic gesture in form interim arrangements under which GOC would collect part of Katanga companies export taxes. In return, GOC could reassure companies as to threat of requesting payment for past periods.
- Embassy should strongly urge Van der Straeten and other reps Katanga companies ask Tshombe agree their depositing percentage export taxes in escrow for central government to demonstrate Tshombe their concern for GOC tax claim, to improve their present and future relations with GOC in their own interest, and to help pressure Tshombe to work toward formula which would help constitutional talks make progress. Specific percentage to be deposited could be worked out between Tshombe and Adoula.
- With respect Van der Straeten’s fear reprisals, suggestion we making could hardly expose Katanga companies Tshombe ire.
- Embassy might also inquire whether changes in managerial personnel in Elisabethville are contemplated by companies to insure local policies fully responsive Brussels views.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/1–2862. Confidential. Drafted by Eisenberg and Kenney; cleared by Fredericks, Burdett, Ford, and Wallner; and approved by McGhee. Repeated to London, USUN, Elisabethville, and Léopoldville.↩
- Telegram 1932, January 28, reported a discussion between Gullion and Van der Straeten, who was in the Congo to review Union Miniere’s relations with the Congolese Government. Van der Straeten said the Societe Generale was convinced of the desirability of Katangan reintegration and was seeking positive steps to further this end. He planned to recommend that Union Miniere resume shipment of part of its copper from Katanga via Matadi when the road was reopened in about 3 months and to automatically make some export duties available to the central government. He opposed Gullion’s suggestion that Union Miniere put in escrow a portion of the export duties on copper leaving Katanga via Rhodesia and Angola until Congolese and Katangan authorities could agree on the division of the funds. (Ibid.)↩
- Telegram 1378 from Brussels, January 30, commented that the line taken by Van der Straeten with Gullion was familiar. The Embassy would continue to press Van der Straeten and Robiliart but was more hopeful of achieving results by working with younger and more progressive members of Societe Generale, including its newly-elected head Max Nokin. (Ibid., 770G.00/1–3062)↩