220. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

1801. Dept has been considering courses of action we should now adopt in order regain forward motion with regard reintegration Congo following airport incident2 and recess Adoula-Tshombe talks. Hard realities [Page 422] that moderate control of government must be continued and re-fragmentation of Congo avoided have not changed nor has need for prompt reintegration Katanga without which we are likely to see loss of first two goals. An opening has reappeared which the Bloc might exploit to tear Congo apart once again. It is most regrettable that while UNOC and US were attempting effect reintegration of Katanga through negotiation and improve GOC public posture, GOC by injudicious action has placed itself in bad light and imperiled future negotiations. At same time Tshombe has emerged from incident and negotiations with enhanced bargaining power.

Urgent need therefore exists to get GOC back on rails, improve its public posture. Main trouble in dealing with GOC is that it no longer believes UN policy backed by US of peaceful integration can bring about reintegration; hence its propensity to act intemperately and toy with idea of asking for UN withdrawal, substituting bilateral aid.

Dept is concerned that in their present mood Congolese leaders may take further rash steps which could exacerbate already difficult situation. We have report of unestablished reliability Adoula planning Moscow visit in May and we anticipate Soviets will react promptly to current stalemate with strong statements in support GOC, castigation UN and US as neo-colonialist supporters of Tshombe and possible moves for UN withdrawal which could involve Security Council.

Cleveland and Fredericks plan to discuss with Bunche and Gardiner in New York April 23 or 24 courses of action UN and US should now pursue. Among other courses being considered is informing Adoula of tax and foreign exchange collection threat coupled with explanation that posture in which GOC has now put itself would make this kind of support next to impossible for us to extend unless GOC posture basically reoriented. Would also appreciate your assessment of possibility for UN, or US with UK and Belgium if possible playing more prominent mediatory role such as development of fairly precise formula (possibly Gardiner paper) for reintegration of Katanga into workable central govt for presentation perhaps by African state or UN to both parties. This approach is based on belief that Bantu palaver between two parties is unlikely to result in agreement and that situation is likely to continue to deteriorate. Feasibility of an approach by US–UK and Belgium [Page 423] would depend, of course, on agreement on contents of formula and willingness all three countries to give formula their full support.

Urtel 26213 will be very helpful in these discussions and Dept would appreciate receiving urgently any additional views and suggestions you wish have considered in upcoming meeting.4

Fully appreciate risks in your lecturing Adoula in absence specifics which would restore credibility of US and UN expressions of support. However, any immediate action you can take which would be calculated prevent GOC taking further steps militating against early resumption negotations would be highly desirable.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/4–2061. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Vance; cleared by Fredericks, in draft by Burdett, and in substance by Wallner; and approved by McGhee. Repeated to USUN, Paris, London, and Brussels.
  2. On April 18, while Adoula was away on a short trip to Coquilhatville, Tshombe arranged with U.N. officials to visit Elisabethville. Congolese forces at the airport prevented the departure of the U.N. plane with Tshombe aboard. Numerous discussions ensued, with Ambassador Gullion reinforcing the efforts of U.N. representatives to persuade Congolese officials to adhere to previous Congolese assurances to the United Nations that there would be no interference with Tshombe’s freedom of movement if he came to Léopoldville for talks. Late in the evening of April 18, opposition to the plane’s departure was withdrawn, and Tshombe flew to Elisabethville. (Telegrams 2616, 2620, 2622, and 2624–2626 from Léopoldville and telegram 2728 to USUN, all April 18; ibid., 770G.00/4–1862)
  3. Document 219.
  4. Telegram 2670 from Léopoldville, April 22, supported the suggestion in the second sentence in the preceding paragraph but warned that the Congolese would reject any joint U.S.-U.K.-Belgian proposal and that such a jointly-sponsored proposal would destroy U.S. influence with the Adoula government. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/4–2262)