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

664. As we see immediate problems which face us in light relatively satisfactory outcome of OAU conference, following are our immediate priority tasks:

1. To assure that Kasavubu, Tshombe and rest of GOC not only remain committed to resolution but cooperate in implementing it in spirit [Page 373] and as much in letter as negotiating history and Congo’s internal security problems require;

2. To take rapid hard look at military and related activities with view toward reducing US visibility and, if possible, changing forms of assistance in ways which might lessen problems with ad hoc committee without incurring unacceptable loss of military effectiveness; and

3. Coordinating diplomatic initiatives by US, Belgians and GOC in African capitals, particularly with those members of ad hoc committee which we have reason to believe will be understanding and helpful, with objective of assuring best possible atmosphere for cooperation between commission and GOC on former’s arrival Leopoldville.

Re (1), you should see Tshombe and express to him our great pleasure and admiration at effective manner in which he handled himself and presented his country’s problems at Addis Ababa. You should add that in our opinion he has made most heartening progress in establishing his credentials as an African leader and in obtaining the understanding of many of his African brethren of the hard problems which confront his government. You should emphasize importance we attach, and which we are sure he shares, to building on promising beginnings made at Addis Ababa toward obtaining vital cooperation of rest of Africa in dealing with Congo problem. You may tell him at same time that we aware of problems which some of provisions of resolution may pose for him. Nevertheless, we believe resolution constitutes signal victory for principles for which he sought recognition and important thing now is to prepare for commission of inquiry in spirit of Addis Ababa. FYI. Above not a substitution for suggestion contained para 4 Embtel 10222 on which we await your further recommendations. End FYI.

Although we believe it would be a mistake to give Tshombe what we regard as reasonable interpretations of questionable parts of resolution you may wish keep following in back your mind in case conversation should turn in that direction.

1. Department does not consider that paragraphs 6 and 7 of resolution prohibit GOC from concluding or continuing bilateral arrangements to assure its own internal security. On same basis USG is not “at present intervening in internal affairs Democratic Republic of Congo” since it assisting GOC at request legitimate government.

2. Although Tshombe committed to expelling mercenaries, Department believes resolution phrase “as soon as possible” and fact OAU did not provide troops which he requested give him considerable flexibility in meeting this commitment. Recognize he will be subject varying degrees of adverse criticism.

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3. Resolution acceptably recognizes previous GOC efforts bring about national reconciliation and does not confer on commission powers to negotiate with rebels without GOC cooperation.

Re (2), Department suggests following areas should be explored:

(a) Embassy requested examine and suggest soonest any possible means in addition those already taken to reduce visibility and change form US military assistance consistent essential security requirements. In this connection is there anything US could or should do before visit OAU commission?

(b) Embassy should urge Kasavubu, Tshombe and other GOC officials as appropriate to assure that all necessary actions taken to accept individual rebel surrenders and deposit their arms; to prevent any brutal or retaliatory treatment against captured and surrendering rebels; to suspend obvious or unnecessary activities in Leopoldville and elsewhere which could be considered intimidation opposition elements; to examine moves which could be made to broaden government, at least partially.

(c) GOC should undertake all possible steps, without weakening internal security, to reduce mercenaries visibility or otherwise lessen the effect as political liabilities. For example, perhaps repatriation undesirables can be represented as conscious decision reduce numbers.

(d) Embassy requested offer suggestions consistent with internal security requirements to assure against excessive use of force or militarily unimportant actions.

Re (3), continuing guidance will follow as required.

For Brussels: You should summarize above for GOB in effort coordinate our approaches to these problems, making clear we most anxious obtain GOB views thereon.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate. Drafted by Palmer and Schaufele; cleared by McKillop, Fredericks, Lang, Brubeck, Palmer, and O’Sullivan; and approved by Harriman. Also sent to Brussels.
  2. Dated September 10. (Ibid.)