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

472. For the Secretary and Governor Harriman.

1. On receipt Department’s 249 to Leo 2 this morning I requested immediate audiences with Kasavubu and Tshombe. Kasavubu received Blake and me at 1330 local time. I reviewed for President in general way HarrimanSpaak discussions saying Belgians and US had agreed important response to GOC request for assistance rapidly and as full as possible.

Relying on Deptel 223 to Leo 3 I then said USG had decided, as requested by GOC support development of 3,000 man gendarme force to be led by military technicians, with US providing vehicles, communications and air support as needed and Belgians providing other arms and other kinds of equipment.

2. In line with this I added four C–130 aircraft would arrive tomorrow in order provide lift capacity urgently requested by GOC. These aircraft would be accompanied, in addition to their crews, by group of soldiers for maintenance and protection of these aircraft. Total number of such soldiers would be about 100 men.

3. I said that Governor Williams would be arriving aboard one of these planes in order discuss with him and PriMin problems of restoring security in Congo and how US might help. Kasavubu said he would look forward to seeing Governor Williams.

4. I then paraphrased for Chief of State first three paragraphs of Deptel 249. At point where I emphasized it essential that if GOC and USG are to cooperate they must put all cards on table. I distressed to say that Department informed by South African Ambassador in Washington yesterday (Deptel 244)4 that GOC had requested SAG provide two squadrons fighter aircraft ready for action plus officers and enlisted men and various equipment, all within 48 hours. When I pointedly asked Kasavubu whether he knew about request for SA military assistance he gave me distinct impression this first he had heard program, although he was somewhat evasive in answering.

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5. I once again bore down with Kasavubu on importance US attaches to African participation in process of restoring order in Congo and said we ready provide necessary aircraft and support costs above normal salary, allowances and maintenance for African troops which might come here. I did not discuss penultimate paragraph of Deptel 249 re missions which African troops might have, nor did I point up though that Belgian, as well as our own efforts might be frustrated unless African assistance forthcoming. However, I did return once again to theme that more evidence of realism and cooperation must definitely be forthcoming from Congolese side.

6. Kasavubu then said what I had just told him obviously important since it represented views of highest USG circles. He added he could give me no answer until he had had chance to discuss this whole question of African assistance with Tshombe. Only then could he give US and Belgians, whom he implied had made parallel démarche, re importance of African participation, GOC’s considered reply. I tried in several ways draw him out further in order get his own views on subject, but to no avail. He ended audience by saying he hoped have good talk with Governor Williams, whom he hoped would be able stay longer in Congo than during last visit.

7. Upon return to office I found message from Tshombe asking me to call at 1600 local time.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 19–3 US–THE CONGO. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Received at 11:34 a.m. Repeated to Brussels and CINCSTRIKE and relayed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. Document 213.
  3. Document 207.
  4. Dated August 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 1 S AFR–CONGO)
  5. In telegram 481 from Leopoldville, August 12, Godley reported his discussion of this issue with Tshombe, who asked him to report that he agreed with the necessity of obtaining African assistance and not to be misled by his public statements, which were based on his conviction that the Congolese people would react violently against their government if they learned of such requests. (Ibid.)