212. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1

1606. For Secretary from MacArthur. Deptel 2302.2 Although Spaak intended spend day (Sunday) outside Brussels he changed his plans at my request and met with me late this morning. I went over Congo situation with him in detail including Struelens activity and as suggested in reftel requested him specifically to: (A) send message at once to Tshombe; and (B) call in Nokin and Robiliart and speak to them strongly along lines you suggested. Spaak was most forthcoming and helpful and following is summary of his reply:


Struelens. Spaak said before discussing above requests he wanted to make one very frank observation. He is totally unable to understand how we can permit Struelens to remain in the US intervening openly in political matters and doing great damage to declared policy objectives of the US. In the past we have often urged Belgian Government in connection with Congo problem to take steps against Belgian [Page 402] nationals and others whether or not there was any legal basis for action and Spaak has done his best to be responsive.

Struelens is a case where a foreigner in the United States—not an American—is doing great damage and the US Government does not take any effective action against him. Spaak said Tshombe has great confidence in what Struelens cables him about “true situation in United States” and as long we permit him to remain in US we making a major if unwitting contribution to Tshombe’s intransigent and separatist attitude. He earnestly hoped we would find ways to expel Struelens as our very refusal to do so bolsters Tshombe’s belief that Tshombe has such strong political support in United States we dare not expel Struelens. Spaak said we should realize that Struelens reports exercise far greater influence on Tshombe than does UMHK and we have it in our power to make great contribution to Katanga reintegration by expelling him. If we are unable to curb Struelens’ activities all the other efforts Belgium and the United States are making to bring about Katanga reintegration through an Adoula-Tshombe meeting may be nullified.

I said we had difficulty finding legal grounds to deport Struelens. Spaak replied that surely there must be some means to expel an alien who is interfering in our domestic politics and undermining the security of the United States behaving in way that plays into hands of Communists efforts to take over Africa.


Message to Tshombe. Spaak agreed situation is drifting dangerously along lines I reported on February 26 in final paragraph Embtel 1554.3 He said Vanderwalle (in charge of Belgian Consulate Elisabethville) is now in Brussels and is leaving for Elisabethville about March 6 and he would give him personal letter for Tshombe. I said while I appreciate this response situation is deteriorating and is one of greatest urgency. I hoped therefore that he would send cable message to Tshombe today which Belgian authorities in Elisabethville could deliver. Spaak said as result of pressure from the UN, from Adoula and from US he had withdrawn his Consular personnel from Elisabethville. In Vanderwalle’s absence he has virtually nobody but minor mud larks there and nobody who would have any influence with Tshombe in conveying message. I said I appreciated this but a mud lark could deliver the text of a message from Spaak and I hoped he would send one today. Spaak said he would do so today and directed Rothschild (also present) to prepare draft at once to effect that Spaak had recently returned from US and [Page 403] knew of absolute determination of US Government to support UN and GOC with all means in Katanga reintegration and urging Tshombe to be forthcoming re reintegration and meet with Adoula, etc.

Spaak reiterated he deeply concerned about “drift” in Congo situation and failure to implement Kitona. Latest word he has received indicates Tshombe still agrees to meet Adoula but is thinking of March 8 rather than March 6. Spaak also understands Tshombe has sent message to friends in Léopoldville requesting arrangements for press conference during his visit there. Spaak asked me to say to you that while he will do his utmost to influence Tshombe, he and GOB frankly have virtually no influence with Tshombe and no officials of any stature or rank in Elisabethville who can make real impact.

Meeting with Nokin (SG) and Robiliart (UMHK). Spaak agreed to get in touch once again with Nokin and Robiliart about escrow and will urge them to use their influence constructively with Tshombe. He will try to meet with them personally tomorrow, but if this not possible he will have Foreign Office SecGen Van den Bosch see them tomorrow and press them in sense we desire. He emphasized that he fully supports what he described as “very helpful” initiative I had taken last month with Union Miniere and Societe Generale to establish in their own self-interest a clear and unequivocal legal and moral position vis-a-vis Adoula and GOC by proposing and making public escrow. He will continue to urge this and wanted us to know that since our last talk March 1 (Embtel 1586)4 he had again seen Robiliart and pressed him to put escrow proposal to Tshombe in writing and also either to make proposal public or let Adoula know about it. He said he also had on his desk draft letter to UMHK along lines I had proposed to Rothschild (see final paragraph Embtel 1586) and while he had not reached final conclusion he disposed to send this letter.

Spaak said while fully agreeing with us on desirability and indeed necessity of UMHK making a clear record by putting escrow proposal in writing, he wanted you to know that he strongly disagreed with impression he has received that US Government believes that UMHK is key to Katanga integration. This, Spaak said, is just not true and is a very dangerous assumption on which to base any policy or plan of action because while UMHK is significant element in the picture and can of course, exert a helpful influence, the heart of the Katanga reintegration problem is not UMHK but is “political”. In this connection as we surely know, there are in Katanga strong secessionist elements surrounding Tshombe and Struelens is an important element in this aspect of the picture. While [Page 404] these secessionists unquestionably are putting great pressure on Tshombe, Spaak is quite dubious about Tshombe himself and considers him an undependable and unreliable quantity but added that Tshombe has at least expressed readiness to meet with Adoula in Léopoldville this week despite pressure from Katangan extremists and some very unhelpful statements by both UN and GOC. Spaak doubts that Tshombe has as yet definitively decided to reintegrate Katanga and believes he may be stalling for time in hope eventually he can establish some form of independent or semi-independent state perhaps within some form of federation with Northern Rhodesia and others. However, unless there is Adoula-Tshombe meeting it will not be possible to smoke him out.

Spaak said he hoped we would avoid any tendency to over-simplify problem of Katanga reintegration by viewing it largely as a matter that would be decided by views and actions of UMHK and the Belgian companies. He trusted we “would not develop such a fixation” about complex problem of Katanga reintegration because it just does not correspond with reality although he knows this is a popular thesis in the United Nations. He repeated that he fully agreed that UMHK is important and that it could make very helpful contribution. However, in addition to our united efforts with UMHK and Tshombe we should now be using our every persuasion with Adoula and with the UN to influence not only their actions but their words so as to bring about an Adoula-Tshombe meeting without which situation will drift with all dangers pointed out in Embtel 1554.

Spaak said that since his talk with me he had had the legal experts look up the record and he believes there is something in the Roundtable Conference5about division of Katanga revenues between GOC and Katanga on a 50–50 basis which would be useful for UMHK to include as legal justification for escrow in the written submission to Tshombe and he will suggest this to UMHK.

Spaak said if, as he hopes, UMHK will soon put escrow proposal to Tshombe in writing and if latter still reacts violently against it UMHK will, of course, have no choice but pay, as other foreign companies, including American, have had to do in similar circumstances. However, in such event he agreed they should only pay under strong written protest reserving their rights as I had suggested last month to Robiliart. In view of complicated procedures of UMHK and SG executive board procedures and voting, Spaak does not think it realistic to believe that necessary agreement can be obtained from UMHK and SG to put escrow [Page 405] proposal in writing to Tshombe before March 8. Therefore, he urges all our efforts be at once directed to AdoulaTshombe meeting on assumption that further action by UMHK on escrow will not be forthcoming by March 8. If UMHK does act favorably by then so much the better.


We will of course continue to give Congo situation top priority and may have some ideas to suggest. Meanwhile we have several thoughts about points raised in your message and in Ambassador Gullion’s 220765/ to which you referred. I do not know whether you had opportunity to see my telegram 1554 of February 26 which contains our analysis of the situation as seen from Brussels. We pointed out that to base our course of actions on assumption that we or GOB can force UMHK actually to implement escrow plan if Tshombe strongly objects is just not realistic and therefore we should concentrate our main efforts on bringing about an Adoula-Tshombe meeting soonest. In other words let us use everything we have to get such a meeting this week while Tshombe still agrees to it, regardless of implementation of escrow plan. We think this vitally important because if meeting fails to materialize situation will probably deteriorate further and we may not have another opportunity for a long time to bring Tshombe and Adoula together. As I have reported we here rate earliest possible meeting between Adoula and Tshombe as most important step we can take under present circumstances to arrest drift and deterioration in Congo situation which obvious to all. Since Tshombe has in mind meeting on March 6 or 8 (only two or four days off) we do not share fear in Léopoldville 2207 (referred to in your message) that drift on both sides need continue unchecked. The real danger it seems to us is that if meeting does not materialize soon there will be growing misunderstanding, impatience and distrust on both sides culminating in an explosion. Even if such a meeting fails to produce a breakthrough on Katanga integration, it should (as we pointed out in Embtel 1554) at least clarify matters to point where in terms of our own domestic political situation as well as internationally we will be better able to deal more adequately with the problem and obtain greater support for actions we may wish to take than is the case at present when the situation is getting well fuzzed up as Kitona recedes into the background.

For above reasons and in light of realities of situation (Embtel 1554) we believe Léopoldville is quite unrealistic in its 2207 to set at this point implementation of escrow plan as our first objective. Given the situation we face at this juncture we continue to believe that an Adoula-Tshombe meeting should be our primary goal.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/3–462. Confidential; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Léopoldville, London, Paris, Elisabethville, and USUN.
  2. Document 211.
  3. Telegram 1554 from Brussels, February 26, commented on the Congo situation. The last paragraph stated that without a meeting between Adoula and Tshombe, a breakthrough could not be achieved through the escrow plan, that an Adoula-Tshombe meeting could be the key to a breakthrough on Katangan integration, and that in the absence of such a meeting, the situation would continue to drift. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/2–2662)
  4. Telegram 1586 from Brussels, March 1, reported MacArthur’s meeting with Spaak that day. (Ibid., 770G.00/3-162)
  5. It is not clear whether the reference is to the Belgian-Congolese Roundtable Conference of January–February 1960 or to the Economic Roundtable Conference of April–May 1960; information concerning both is in Libois and Verhaegen, Congo 1960, pp. 19–69 and 85–103.
  6. See footnote 1, Document 211.