252. Telegram From the Embassy in Belgium to the Department of State1
433. Deptel 446.2 Greatly appreciated reftel which I discussed with Spaak at luncheon today and at second more private meeting later. He had seen text of final OAU resolution3 and concurs with us that it is [Page 365] generally good, particularly since it confirms legitimacy of Leoville govt. At same time he noted that it is rather “equivocal” on certain points, notably “foreign intervention” and expulsion of mercenaries. While more extreme African states such as Casablanca bloc will doubtless try to exploit equivocal provisions re “no foreign intervention” to attack Belgian and US military aid to GOC, he did not think we had to worry very much about this because substantial majority of African nations would recognize Congo right to receive bilateral assistance. Re expulsion of mercenaries, he felt draft language “as soon as possible” would be generally interpreted in sense that this phrase has been interpreted in UN resolutions which has more meaning “as soon as feasible”. While he thought composition of commission could have been more favorable his preliminary thought is that moderates would have at least majority of one and that Kenyatta would make reasonable chairman.
Spaak then went on to say key question on which future evolution of Congo situation largely depends is “what will Tshombe do next?” While Tshombe has certain good and useful qualities he also has his faults and if he is not properly advised he is apt to act impulsively and take steps which are damaging. Therefore Spaak is thinking in first instance of someone who might serve as Tshombe’s political advisor. In other words, Spaak wants someone on political side who can supply Tshombe with advice and counsel that Van der Walle is supplying to him on military side.
In strictest and most absolute secrecy Spaak said he was thinking of detailing Rothschild to Congo for period of about three months. He explained that when Rothschild arrived in Addis the initial draft of Tshombe’s speech was appalling but as result of Rothschild’s work it had been substantially revised in helpful sense. Tshombe apparently likes and respects Rothschild and also knows he has Spaak’s full confidence. What Spaak has in mind is, at Tshombe’s request, to send Rothschild on preliminary survey trip to Congo (just as Van der Walle was sent) following which Rothschild would return and report to Spaak on political situation and possibilities, and then if Tshombe desired his services he would be detailed for limited period, perhaps three months.
Spaak’s second preoccupation is that there be no “spectacular military adventures” undertaken in the immediate future. He explained there is substantial amount of military consolidation to be effected and [Page 366] one must move steadily rather than spectacularly if ANC is to avoid (a) bloody nose and (b) if gains are to be consolidated and progress maintained. He then said he wished to say on personal but frank basis in keeping with intimacy of our relations that he understood there are some differences between Americans and Belgian military in Congo and that certain American officers are pressing for a swift and spectacular operation against Stanleyville (Embtel 427).4 He felt this extremely unwise and hoped that any differences in tactics and strategy between Belgian and American military would be resolved in Leoville in a constructive sense.
Spaak concluded by saying that in next few days he and his immediate advisors would be reviewing all aspects of Congo problem and that he would wish to meet with me next Tuesday morning, Sept 15, for full and frank exchange of views.
I expressed appreciation to Spaak for his speaking with such complete frankness about Congo picture including possibility of Rothschild being sent there. I emphasized again, as I had at beginning, that we looked to Belgium to take lead in Congo and that if Tshombe desires Rothschild’s services, I thought it would be splendid to send him. I added we fully agree, as Gov Harriman had made clear in his August meeting with Spaak,5 that one of crying needs of Congo was qualified advisors and Belgium was in best position to supply them. We had great confidence in Rothschild who over past several years had collaborated with us on a basis of complete frankness and friendship and we respected his intelligence and integrity.
Davignon, who was present, expressed reservation about sending Rothschild to Leoville, saying it would in effect mean establishing “two Ambassadors.” Spaak brushed this aside saying that if Rothschild went there he would go as an advisor to Tshombe and that this was not incompatible with the presence of a separate Belgian Amb who could ride herd on details of Belgium’s multiple interests.
Comment: Other than what Belgians have told us we are not aware of any differences between US and Belgian military advisors. However, if we want Belgians to continue to take lead I strongly recommend they be reconciled at once in accord with Van der Walle plan.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 OAU. Secret; Immediate. Repeated to Leopoldville and passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.↩
- Telegram 446 to Brussels, September 9, reported that the Department shared Spaak’s wish that a useful resolution would emerge from Addis Ababa, and noted that the latest reports indicated that the OAU was gradually coming around to a resolution the United States could approve. (Ibid.)↩
- For text of the final resolution adopted by the OAU Council of Ministers, September 10, “Creation of an Ad Hoc Commission of the Organization of African Unity To Help Restore National Unity in the Congo,” see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 763–765. The Ad Hoc Commission, headed by Kenyan Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta, consisted of representatives from Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroun, Upper Volta, Tunisia, the United Arab Republic, and Somalia. Its mission was to restore peace in the Congo through helping it to normalize relations with its neighbors and to restore national reconciliation.↩
- Dated September 7. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, 23–9 THE CONGO)↩
- See Document 204.↩