22. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

3202. Following based on uncleared Memcon:2

French Ambassador gave Secretary Feb 5 French govt’s views on US suggestions re Congo. French have series reservations: one, would [Page 54] appear US suggesting UN control legal govt’s armed forces and administration which would weaken power Kasavubu and diminish his prestige; two, UN control all forces in Congo puts legal govt on same basis with Katanga govt and rebel regimes in Kivu and Orientale; three, French worried by possible use of force by UN, fearing it could lead to secession by Tshombe and Gizenga.

Alphand said French believe it essential that agreement be made in first instance with legal govt so as to provide cover for military and administrative assistance. This would enhance Kasavubu prestige and permit coalescence around him of moderate elements in Congo, thus leading to some stability. As example, suggested we could let it be known to Tshombe at some point that aid to him would be channeled through Léopoldville. Said in essence French prefer aid to legitimate govt to neutralization all forces and believe aid so offered could slowly lead to regroupment around govt forces of moderate military elements from all provinces.

Secretary said we do not believe forcible disarming of forces is needed. Aim rather is retraining and redirection so that activities of Congo forces are in harmony with those of UN. Concept, which UNSYG shares, is not one of oversight action but series of steps. Administrative support is essential if country is not to fall into chaos. A broader govt, constitutionally organized perhaps with Ileo as Prime Minister and including elements other than those in the immediate Léopoldville area, would seem essential if present govt is to get internal and external support. Federal set-up may be needed. These are matters to be worked out in time. Present task is to get clear definition UN and UNSYG roles, perhaps through Security Council resolution or perhaps through clarification statement there. Pressure would then have to be applied Kasavubu in order have him understand actions are taken in interest governmental, political, and economic stability of Congo. Secretary made it clear we do not visualize putting UN in sovereign control of Congo. Role rather would be provide necessary support for country and to stimulate creation broadly-based govt capable taking over tasks itself in future. UN would of course have substantial role to play for some time.

Earlier Alphand expressed GOF feeling that US had acted too quickly in giving its “Plan” to large number countries, including Afro-Asians. Pointed out France’s vital interest in Congo problem and its effects on French Community and stressed French desire be consulted before others.

Secretary replied we not presenting “US Plan” but rather series of suggestions on possible course of action. Noted various nations had differing reactions to our suggestions and stressed need to seek to find common ground for UN action if we are to avoid continuing deterioration in Congo and grave problems for all. Said it essential for UN to get in [Page 55] better posture and for legal govt accept UN suggestions and take necessary actions. Should it refuse, result could be UN withdrawal with all its grave implications. Secretary also noted pressure of time necessitated wide range consultations. We prefer have Security Council concentrate on real problems of Congo and not have discussions descend to squabble about status Lumumba.

Secretary concluded discussion by stating gap not so wide. Suggested Alphand inform GOF that US approach is broader and less rigid one than GOF had appeared believe. Aim is not UN trusteeship or protectorate; it is to clarify and strengthen UNSYG’s mandate to provide aid needed if there is to be peace and orderly administration. We would seek approval of Kasavubu but believe other alternatives so bad he should be pressed hard. Suggested further consultation in UN.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/2–561. Secret. Drafted and approved by the Officer in Charge of French-Iberian Affairs L. Dean Brown and cleared by Cargo and Seip and in substance by Ferguson. Repeated to Léopoldville, Brussels, London, and USUN.
  2. Drafted by Brown and dated February 5. (Ibid.)