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

2302. For Ambassadors from Secretary. Léopoldville’s 2207.2 We are informed Struelens has advised Tshombe to avoid meeting Adoula, referred to developments in US Senate and elsewhere, and stated he believes if Tshombe stalls and plays for time, he can hope to retain his present status. Tshombe’s proceeding on basis such miscalculation could have gravest consequences including round three if Katangan ultras should attack UNOC forces or full scale civil war if irresistible pressures build up in Léopoldville.

Prior to foregoing development we had become increasingly concerned, as Gullion (reftel), at lack of forward motion in implementation Kitona and possibilities delays afford for a breach. Struelens’ advice favoring inactivity, stalling, and continued de facto independence contains all the ingredients customarily favored by Tshombe.

I believe it is imperative that Tshombe be persuaded that Struelens’ advice is based upon a miscalculation. We shall convey such information to him in the strongest possible terms but it would be most helpful if expressions of Belgian and British Government convictions of unavoidability of Katangan reintegration could also be conveyed to Tshombe.

[Page 400]

For Brussels: You should inform Spaak of foregoing and state we hope Belgian Government will press Tshombe to go through with his plan meet with Adoula in Léopoldville March 6 and work out details of implementation of Kitona agreement in prompt and reasonable fashion. It would be helpful if that demarche also mentioned Belgian conviction of determination USG to continue support UN and GOC efforts reunify Congo. We are in fact persuaded that it may soon become necessary in order to reduce the pressures that are building up for renewed fighting for action to be taken in economic sphere by GOC in direction economic reintegration Katanga. In our opinion Tshombe can gain reputation as effective statesman if he presses promptly and reasonably for reintegration pursuant Kitona. Failure to do so on other hand could we fear have gravest consequences for him, for Congo and for West in general.

You should also urge Spaak or Prime Minister call in Nokin and Robiliart and inform them gravity with which we view dangerous effects these developments could have on prospects peaceful reintegration. In our view companies probably stand best chance of being able convince Tshombe of unavoidability his moving promptly to reintegrate and of dangerous aspects for Tshombe of Struelens’ advice. We believe time is very rapidly running out for companies to make their peace with GOC and that potential threat to their interests posed by possible GOC attitudes considerably outweighs that posed by Tshombe under present circumstances. We fully concur in Gullion’s recommendations (reftel)3 as to action UMHK and Katangan companies in like circumstances should now take regarding tax payments. In our view UMHK should send top level representative to Elisabethville from Brussels.

If arrangements are not made at March 6 meeting or promptly thereafter, if meeting not held for companies to make appropriate tax payments to GOC or escrow, we believe GOC would have no alternative to exerting pressure to bring this about. Companies should consider this prospect in light of fact GOC has considerable capability in this regard. It is not tolerable for Tshombe any longer to have veto power over tax payments.

For Léopoldville: We should make similar approach to Tshombe and suggest most effective method would be for you to make quick visit to Elisabethville for this purpose after discussing matter with Adoula.4

[Page 401]

For London: Request you urge British Government make similar demarche to Tshombe.5

Believe British and Belgian Government approaches should not await or be dependent upon successful efforts elicit action Belgian companies or vice versa.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/3–162. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Vance; cleared in draft by Tasca, Fredericks, Williams, Burdett, Wallner, and McGhee; and approved by Ball, who initialed for Rusk. Also sent to London and Léopoldville and repeated to Elisabethville, USUN, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 2207 from Léopoldville, March 1, expressed alarm at the widening gap between Tshombe and Adoula and urged continuing efforts to arrange a meeting between them. (Ibid.)
  3. It recommended attempting to obtain implementation of the 75 percent escrow proposal; if the Belgian Government and Union Miniere refused to implement the plan over Tshombe’s objections, it recommended following the policies outlined in telegram 1552, Document 210.
  4. The Department withdrew this suggestion after both Gullion and Hoffacker expressed the view that a visit by Gullion to Elisabethville would be counterproductive. Gullion reported that he understood Tshombe had “worked up first-class psychosis” concerning him. (Telegram 2229 from Léopoldville, March 4, and telegram 1560 to Léopoldville, March 7; both in Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/3-462; telegram 1291 from Elisabethville, March 5; ibid., 770G.00/3–562)
  5. Bruce replied in telegram 3253 from London, March 5, that the Foreign Office had already instructed the U.K. Consul in Elisabethville to make a demarche to Tshombe. (Ibid., 711.0155/3–362)