204. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1

184. For Secretary from Harriman; Leoville for Ambassador. After a sticky beginning talks with Spaak went well. Spaak first maintained situation in Congo not as critical as we think. Also he tried to minimize adverse effect to Belgian business of rebel takeover. After I expressed our judgment that rebels would in time be dominated by ChiComs, he modified his position and discussed a step-by-step program (details septel).2

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I. Congo

A. In general, Belgian Govt will supply by middle of month 3000 NATO rifles and ammunition for gendarmerie. (Request we supply one flight C–130 to assist in air delivery.)

Belgians request us to add six additional T–28s or armed T–6s. I agreed we would consider promptly. We expected to contribute needed motor vehicles.

B. He is sending Col. Van der Walle with Kasavubu concurrence to become Tshombe’s military advisor. Will also consider furnishing additional reliable advisors to strengthen Tshombe’s entourage.

C. While maintaining his refusal to have Belgian officers encadred in ANC, we [he?] did agree to authorize Belgian advisors to go to Bukavu and critical forward points, and agreed desirability of Congo request for French officers for encadrement of gendarmerie.

D. He agreed instruct his Ambassador to discuss with Kasavubu Tshombe request to friendly African countries for prompt dispatch of troops. I agreed we would support this initiative.

E. We discussed at some length possible necessity of Western peace-keeping forces in which the Belgians would participate. While initially Spaak was reticent he finally offered to talk to British, German, French and Italian Ambassadors over the weekend or latest on Monday stressing gravity of situation, importance of preserving Congo to protect interests of all in Africa and possibility of requirement of some form of Western participation. Spaak assumed that we would also participate. I took no commitment but indicated that our contribution, if any, could better be in an air support unit. On Spaak’s insistence I agreed that we would have similar talks with above Ambassadors in Washington early next week.

Thus at the end we appeared to be in full agreement on matters that should be given urgent consideration.

II. Burundi

Spaak agreed to call in Burundi Ambassador and tell him bluntly that Burundi must choose between ChiCom and rebel activity in Congo or assistance from Belgium. He expected us to support this position.

III. Ruanda

Spaak agreed to increase military equipment and encadrement Belgian officers for Ruanda army. Requested we supply one flight C–130 for prompt air delivery.

All in all, I found him surprisingly forthcoming, cooperative and prepared to take effective action.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Limdis; Immediate. Received at 3 p.m. Repeated to Leopoldville and relayed to the White House, the Army, and CIA.
  2. Telegram 200 from Brussels, August 8, transmitted the text of the agreement reached by Spaak and Harriman. (Ibid.)