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

739. Believe you should see Tshombe soonest possible, flying Katanga if necessary, and acquaint him with reply Attwood instructed make to Kenyatta re proposed OAU mission to U.S. You should make clear to Tshombe, in standing on position that GOC should participate in any conversations involving U.S. and OAU commission reps, we are counting on his flexibility and cooperation. You should add that if formula we have proposed should be acceptable to OAU commission, we believe Leo would be most appropriate locus of conversations and we would wish try steer things in that direction. This would have advantages of talks taking place at seat of GOC and, at same time, bringing commission to Congo where we hope it might be persuaded more realistically to face up to Congo realities than is presently case in rarified Nairobi atmosphere.

Regardless whether OAU commission accepts our formula for conversations, we strongly believe Tshombe’s best tactic in any event is to encourage commission come to Congo soonest. We concerned in this [Page 380] connection at accumulating evidence that commission moving beyond terms of reference laid down Addis Ababa. We believe GOC can help reverse this trend by following means:

(1) GOC should act immediately to send emissaries to friendly African members commission (particularly Nigeria, Upper Volta, Cameroons, Ethiopia, Tunisia and possibly Somalia and Guinea) to express his concern and to urge those governments to instruct their representatives to insist that the commission keep its activities within purview OAU resolution.

(2) To take initiative himself in urging commission to come soonest to Congo to appraise problems on spot and offer place plane at their disposal for this purpose. Believe it important in this connection that Tshombe make clear that he wants commission to visit rebel held areas to assess for themselves nature these regimes, degree of unity (and disunity) amongst rebel leaders and extent their genuine political (as contrasted military) support amongst population. In short, objective would be to encourage commission to undertake realistic survey Congo problems on spot before becoming involved in unrealistic and dangerous approaches to problem of national reconciliation.

You should assure Tshombe we will assist in these efforts as well, but GOC must take lead re (1) and only GOC can accomplish (2).

We are also most anxious obtain Tshombe’s version of apparent impasse reported Nairobi’s 6952 re discussions with Gbenye and you should obtain as full details as possible.

New subject: Unless ICRC or Swiss Ambassador interposes objections or new developments make action unnecessary, you should also take occasion urge Tshombe in strongest terms drop his condition re ICRC plane stopping Leo.3 Report from Nairobi of Gbenye’s presence Uganda would seem remove reason for Tshombe insistence this condition.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash. Drafted by Palmer, cleared by Fredericks and Brubeck, and approved by Palmer. Repeated to Nairobi and Brussels.
  2. In telegram 695 from Nairobi, September 21, Ambassador Attwood reported that almost all Africans there thought that Tshombe had let down the Ad Hoc Commission and Kenyatta by refusing to meet with the rebels after telling Kenyatta he would. Attwood recommended that Tshombe, in order to head off severe criticism of himself and his government, invite the Commission to Leopoldville to assess the situation, and that Tshombe state his willingness to cooperate and to meet with any dissidents in the interest of national reconciliation. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 352 from Elisabethville, September 22, reported that Tshombe told the Consul in Elisabethville that he agreed that the ICRC plane should go to Stanleyville, provided that it first proceed to Leopoldville to pick up a Congolese Red Cross representative. (Ibid., PS 7-6 THE CONGO)