173. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

1620. For Ambassadors MacArthur and Godley. Brussels 1886 and 1897; Leopoldville 2368 and 2375.2 Request Ambassador MacArthur convey following to Spaak:

We wholeheartedly endorse concept of Belgian preparedness to act in emergency, and should necessity for intervention arise, our agreement thereto would certainly entail our willingness to stand by Belgians and give full moral and political support.

We fully agree would be most helpful if Belgian Government gave verbal assurances to Congolese Government it prepared assist militarily if necessary. Given special Belgian-Congolese relations, Belgium is in position make unique contribution to security free world by preventing disintegration Congo and possible takeover by elements hostile to West. Belgian willingness give such commitment would undoubtedly bolster morale of Congolese Government now shaken by events Kivu.

We assume, however, that Spaak would first wish make sure that request for secret pact was made on behalf Adoula and Kasavubu and does not simply constitute idea floated by Lengema on own. It seems to us as practical matter that in light present alignment of Congolese political and military forces, were Adoula ever make specific request for Belgian military intervention, request should have firm approval of Kasavubu and concurrence or at least non-opposition of Mobutu.

We of opinion disadvantages outweigh advantages to be gained from existence secret written pact including legal basis prepared in advance for intervention. If document to have any validity would presumably require approval Kasavubu and Adoula cabinet, or at least its key figures, with resultant likelihood matter would become public knowledge as Congolese Cabinet not secure. If this happened it would provoke strong Afro-Asian and Bloc reaction creating unnecessary embarrassment for GOB and jeopardizing position of Adoula Government in Congolese domestic scene and in many parts Africa. Secret verbal assurances would seem sufficient for purpose.

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We believe moreover that GOB would wish qualify such assurances by making clear to Adoula and Kasavubu that military intervention could not be automatic whenever and wherever Congolese requested, but that final Belgian decision would have to be taken in light all factors obtaining at that time. It is assumed that in any event assurances would only apply after June 30. In addition Congolese request would have to be made in writing according Congolese constitutional procedures (i.e. having approval of Chief of State as well as of Government) and Congolese would have to be prepared make such request public in view likely international repercussions.

If Spaak agrees with foregoing, we would expect, were GOB to receive request for military forces and if our moral and political support were desired, that GOB would consult urgently with us in order that we might have chance review with Belgians whether or not such military forces seemed required.

For Ambassador Godley: Believe under circumstances it preferable that you not raise this matter with Lengema. We prefer that it remain a subject for bilateral Belgian-Congolese discussions and that initiative be left to Belgians for present.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Top Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Looram; cleared in draft by Williams, Colonel Junkerman in DOD/ISA, Tyler, Meeke, and Sisco; and by Harriman; and approved by Acting Secretary Ball. Also sent to Leopoldville and repeated to USUN.
  2. Telegram 1886 from Brussels, May 27; telegram 1897 from Brussels, May 29; telegram 2368 from Leopoldville, May 28; telegram 2375 from Leopoldville, May 29. (All ibid.)