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

70. Embtel 116.2 Although Department recognizes reasons causing Kasavubu decision not to attend Cairo meeting, in long run absence may prove harmful to Congo and Kasavubu himself. However we believe his presence desirable in terms his African image and to permit him reassure other Africans about future direction Congolese policy.

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If GOC leaders absent, moderate African resistance to determined steam roller tactics by certain African states to ostracize Congo on basis Tshombe position may well evaporate. On other hand their presence presents fait accompli which hopefully will stiffen moderate attitude and gain at least some initial African acceptability for Tshombe.

Absence could result in isolation of Congo in Africa which will give Tshombe excuse turn further toward Belgians, Portuguese, South Africans for assistance.

Unless in your opinion effort to change Kasavubu’s mind is too late you requested in your discretion make urgent representations to Kasavubu based on above considerations urging him to attend OAU meeting as scheduled.

FYI: Reporting from Cairo gives no indication of reported telegram to Kasavubu from OAU foreign ministers asking him not to bring Tshombe to OAU meeting. Conceivably this was rumor planted to bring about KasavubuTshombe decision not to attend. Suggest you take no position re Tshombe attendance. This decision one to be made by Kasavubu. If you approach Kasavubu you should inform Belgians in advance. End FYI.

For Brussels: In your discretion you may approach Belgians requesting them intercede with Kasavubu on above lines.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 OAU. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Schaufele; cleared by O’Sullivan, Olds of AFI, and Jones of NE; and approved by Williams. Repeated to Brussels and Cairo.
  2. Telegram 116 from Leopoldville, July 15, reported that no one from Leopoldville was going to attend the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Heads of State meeting at Cairo. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 78 to Leopoldville, July 16, reported that Congo Chargé Pongo called at the Department to get the U.S. reaction to his government’s decision not to attend the OAU conference. He was told that the U.S. Government thought Kasavubu should attend the meeting to preserve his image as an African leader and to prevent the Congo from being isolated in Africa. (Ibid.) No Congolese representative attended the Cairo conference, which was held July 17–21.