206. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • UN Troop Movements outside Elisabethville

The cables reporting Gullion and Wallner’s conversations in New York with Sir Patrick Dean and with U Thant (Tab A)2 may not in their choice of detail give the full flavor of these interviews. From what Wallner tells me of the talks he is confident that Dean and Thant understand clearly that the U.S. Government would not condone troop movements outside of Elisabethville if there was the slightest chance that they would result in renewed fighting. All three Americans at the meetings stressed that it would not be sufficient for Tshombe to acquiesce in these matters and that before they took place he should publicly declare his support of them and call upon the Katangan authorities and public to cooperate with the UN troops. The point was also made that a renewal of fighting would be interpreted as a collapse of the Kitona agreement, [Page 391] which had been a major effort of the administration, and that the whole issue of a fighting UN, which had so deeply divided U.S. and Western European opinion would again be reopened with dangerous, if not fatal, effects on the bond issue. With Thant, Wallner particularly emphasized that getting rid of mercenaries was only one facet of the U.N. mandate and that hostilities on that facet alone would not be justified in the eyes of the U.S. Government.

In any case, Stevenson is to see Thant today to go over the ground again as requested in our cable of Saturday (Tab B).3 I have telephoned him to relay the concern expressed at your staff meeting this morning.4

Finally, you should know that Thant himself acknowledges he can move no troops out of Elisabethville without an airlift of vehicles to that city which only the USAF can perform. We intend to play this one very cosily indeed.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 332.70G/2-1962. Confidential. The memorandum bears Rusk’s initials, indicating that he saw it.
  2. The tabs are not attached to the source text. Regarding the conversation with U Thant, see Document 205. Telegram 2800 from USUN, February 16, reported a conversation with Dean in which he expressed British disquiet at the plan for U.N. troop movements to Kipushi, Kolwezi, and Jadotville. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/2–1662)
  3. Telegram 2133 to USUN, February 17, instructed Stevenson to see Thant and again urge the U.S. view that withdrawal of mercenaries was only one aspect of the problem of Katangan reintegration and that another outbreak of hostilities would endanger U.S. public support for the Congo operation and thus weaken the administration’s ability to support it financially. (Ibid.) Telegram 2825 from USUN, February 19, reported that Yost had met with Thant, who indicated optimism that an early meeting between Adoula and Tshombe might obviate the necessity of troop movements in the near future. Thant added that the United Nations would need U.S. assistance for any troop movements from Elisabethville and therefore as a practical matter would need U.S. agreement. (Ibid., 770G.00/2–1962)
  4. Battle’s record of the staff meeting states that Rusk “again expressed his concern that the additional U.N. troops for Katanga might cause a resumption of hostilities.” (Ibid., S/S Files: Lot 66 D 147, Secretary’s Staff Meetings)