162. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

1897. From Harriman.2 I called on Adoula on March 26. He was relaxed, appeared unworried and in excellent spirits. He showed great pleasure on receiving President’s photograph. Said he was glad to have a chance to talk with me and asked if I had “brought good news.” I explained that the President asked me to visit the Congo to show his personal interest in the Congo specifically and Africa in general. He wanted report on the situation and particularly Adoula’s own views on how he saw the future. He was prepared to support Adoula and his government if it could be done constructively. Adoula then stated he wished to talk about three subjects: Angola, Congo security, and finance.

1. Angola. He expressed concern over deterioration of Holden’s position and threat of radical takeover in GRAE. He had offered to serve as mediator between GRAE and Portuguese to bring about round-table talks but had been unsuccessful and hopes for European and American support. He fears ChiCom presence in Brazzaville will increase likelihood of ChiCom penetration of GRAE which might bring on Holden’s overthrow. However, he believes that if Portugal agrees to negotiate, he is prepared personally to guarantee that Holden will maintain a moderate position. However, time is running out, and Holden is under attack as agent of the imperialists for moving too slowly. Adoula is fearful of left wing penetration into Congo through GRAE as well as adverse effect on Congo of Communist revolution in Angola. I mentioned US efforts to revive Portuguese-African talks and [Page 229] reviewed our continuing efforts to bring pressure on Salazar, mentioning Ball visits to Salazar, our pressures on him to accept UN formula on self-determination, etc. I explained the assistance we were giving refugees in education but we did not know what further action we could take.

2. Congo security. In turning to security I expressed our continuing interest in supporting his government and assistance in problem security. Adoula stated after four years of UN presence which was not normal, Congo must now stand on its own without UN forces. I asked Adoula directly whether he trusted his army. He hesitated a moment and then replied “yes and no”, but did not elaborate. He said that Spaak had promised substantial increase in Belgian military advisors before June 30 but that greatest need prior to June 30 was not training but transport to assure ANC mobility—helicopters and other air and ground transport. He explained that DOD had sent team here to help in studying these problems looking for early US decision. I said plans for technical training teams to reactivate deadlined vehicles and to train maintenance personnel. He confirmed that he approved this program. In reply to my question as to Belgian encadrement at battalion level, Adoula expressed reluctance for fear of provoking mutiny and indicated introduction of Belgians below staff level would have to be handled carefully. He dismissed the police in giving security and indicated that they must rely on USC. The Nigerian police training program was not he maintained a significant contribution to internal overall security. In reply to my question regarding the threat of Tshombe gendarmerie now in Angola, he agreed that this posed a serious threat to Katanga after June 30 but solidly maintained that the government was consolidating its position in Katanga and could take care of threat. He expressed strong opposition to possibility British giving Tshombe visa. Godley interjected to ask Adoula whether there was a possibility of Tshombe’s returning to Congo political scene. Adoula reacted strongly. Said Tshombe had left Congo on his own volition and had not been threatened. He listed number of Tshombists still here, unharmed and many in high government posts. Reviewing Tshombe perfidies he declared Tshombe’s own past treacheries made him fear return, not Congo Government threats. He ended by stating that if Tshombe wished to return the initiative was up to him. He seemed quite relaxed about the Kwilu and indicated that the uprising had been contained.

3. Economic situation. Adoula brought up the IMF review just concluded and Mladek’s opinion that the economy was improving. (I had had a talk with Mladek the night before and Adoula’s statements substantially confirmed what Mladek had told me.) However, Adoula continued, the Congo was not able to do it alone and needed assistance through 1965. I responded that we were willing continue support to [Page 230] Congo but that Congo’s own actions to control inflation, encourage production and exports was essential as well as contributions from other countries. I explained that we were not willing to be the only contributors both because of our Congressional and public opinion at home and also because it was not wise for the Congo to be dependent on one country. As time was running out because of my engagement with President Kasavubu, I said that we could discuss these matters in further detail and that I had another one to add to the list, namely his political problems, the question of the new constitution, the referendum and the elections, and what he was doing to strengthen his own position and that of his party.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 US/HARRIMAN. Confidential; Priority; Limdis.
  2. Harriman was on a fact-finding trip to the Congo.