163. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1
4614. From Harriman. In one and one-half hour session with Spaak Wednesday afternoon at Consulate, Nice, I covered full range of Congo problems. I began by expressing gratification at Belgian and US military and Embassies in Congo working in complete cooperation.
In course of talks, Spaak made these undertakings:
1. He will talk to Minister of Defense to be sure 100 Belgian officers reach Congo before June 30.
2. He will press Mobutu on forthcoming visit to Belgium to accept Israeli training of two existing battalions immediately.
3. He will undertake to raise problem of ex-Katanga gendarmes in Angola in NATO and request Portuguese agreement to inspection of Katanga gendarme camps in Angola by agency such as International Red Cross.
4. He will attempt to improve Belgian intelligence contacts on Tshombe capabilities and intentions.
5. He will look into political background of certain Belgian professors at Elisabethville and question of Katangan need for Belgian technicians.[Page 231]
6. Belgians prepared explore with us possibilities of providing Belgian crews and perhaps maintenance for possible US-loaned helicopters and combat aircraft.
Full account follows:
I began with brief review of my trip and, when I mentioned Mobutu, Spaak volunteered his concern that Mobutu is over-confident and hard to influence. Spaak thought Adoula had agreed to Israeli training of two battalions, is much concerned at hold up and will talk to Mobutu.
We agreed Colonels Mulambe (Stanleyville) and Bobozo (Elisabethville) quite competent, particularly former, and Spaak seemed interested in my report that Mulambe thinks that in time ANC will accept Belgian advisers at company level. I mentioned excellent relations of Mulambe and Belgian Col. Dacoster. Spaak agreed Belgians will keep Dacoster there for another tour.
I reviewed our present thinking about need for ANC transport and communications; plans for MTTs; motor transport and spare parts supply; and maintenance training program. I stressed we look to Belgians for major tactical training functions with US in supporting role.
I said also we hope to work closely with GOB on problems of Constitution and election. Spaak commented on difficulty of getting Adoula, like other Africans, to look beyond immediate problems to plan few months ahead. Spaak stressed Adoula’s complacency regarding his political plans and expressed opposition to early Congolese election.
In reply to my question about Tshombe’s activities, Spaak said their intelligence is poor. While some Belgians see him, those who do are unreliable people. He agreed to try to improve intelligence and establish an effective contact.
He thinks Tshombe very mercurial. When Spaak saw him in Brussels he was very reasonable, said he had abandoned Katanga secession and talked of entering Leopoldville political scene. But shortly after, he attacked Adoula regarding Lumumba’s death. Spaak feels probably too late now for Tshombe play role in Leo. He thinks Tshombe working with some elements in Brazzaville.
Spaak has only general reports re ex-gendarmes in Angola but disturbed by UMHK report of several hundred ex-gendarmes leaving jobs to go join Angola force. Belgian Consul in Luanda has permission visit camps. Spaak proposes NATO discussion of problem with view to getting Portuguese agreement for International Red Cross inspection of gendarme camps in Angola.
I pointed out Portuguese will probably raise Roberto camps in Congo as other side of issue and we discussed Roberto problem briefly [Page 232] and inconclusively. He said the Belgian Embassy in Leo has no contact with Roberto.
We talked briefly also of SW Africa problem and ICJ case, and of its relation to Article 19 problem. Spaak said MacArthur had talked to him re Article 19 and that GOB “has no clear opinion on problem, it is very difficult.”
I then reviewed our analysis of 3-part Congo air requirement—airlift, choppers, and either T–6 or AD–6 type combat aircraft. Spaak agreed it is major factor in ANC ability provide security. I indicated we might supply equipment (on loan basis) and even maintenance but impossible for US provide operating crews and suggested Belgian crews. Spaak showed interest and said GOB willing to explore further possible Belgian role in operation and perhaps maintenance of choppers and AD–6, providing Italians would not do so.
He then listed four short term priorities in this order: more Belgian officers; Israeli training of two battalions; retention of Nigerian troops after June 30; and US supply of air capability. I pointed out Nigerians would require burden-sharing and mentioned that Adoula suggested Tunisians as another possible source. He commented Tunisians would be “second best.”
I then mentioned minor matter, regarding allegedly Communist Belgian professors in University, Elisabethville, and need for Belgian technicians in Katanga which he agreed to check.
With regard to French role in Congo, I reported French Ambassador in Leo’s interest in cultural affairs and rumor regarding French military aid. Spaak expressed great doubt French prepared to make any substantial contribution in Congo, but would welcome it.
On economic matters, I reported impression that large Belgian plantations recovering to pre-independence production but vicious circle of inadequate consumer goods incentives and consequent low production holding native agriculture at low level as well as inadequate transport. I mentioned also estimate by Mladek of IMF that economy on upgrade, and US intention to continue import credit support. Although he agreed, he appeared reluctant to discuss further commitments regarding Belgian import credits.
He seemed gratified by my report that Adoula had expressed satisfaction over his financial agreements with Spaak.
With regard to Brazzaville, Spaak feels it is dangerous base for subversion of Congo–Leo and that French influence there is diminishing rapidly. However, he will talk with French when opportunity offers about Brazzaville problem.
Comment: I told Spaak I would expect to keep in close touch on African matters of common interest. He was forthcoming and I feel close [Page 233] US-Belgian cooperation in Congo is on good footing, both in Leo and at government level. Important we follow up promptly on specifics to keep cooperation moving forward.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Brussels and Leopoldville and passed to the White House.↩