269. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Nigeria1

729. In private conversation today with Palmer, Murumbi indicated personal agreement with following formula as basis for meeting of OAU delegation with Williams and undertook to consult other countries represented on delegation. He will advise Dept at 1400 Zulu Sept 29 whether entire delegation agrees. If there is agreement meeting with Williams would be scheduled later same day as Murumbi, Botsio (who arriving here tonight) and perhaps other members of OAU delegation have to leave Washington evening Sept 29. Formula involves advance commitment by delegation to issuance of joint press statement with US immediately after meeting with Williams. On issuance of press statement, delegation would pay courtesy call on Secretary barring unforeseen conflict of schedules).

Text of press statement as agreed by Murumbi follows:

“Mr. Joseph Murumbi, head of the delegation to the United States of the Ad Hoc Commission on the Congo established by the Organization of African Unity and speaking on behalf of his delegation, met [Page 389] with the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, G. Mennen Williams, today, together with M. Pognon, Assistant Secretary General of the OAU, and informed the Assistant Secretary of the efforts of the OAU Commission to help resolve the Congo problem.

Mr. Murumbi made it clear to Assistant Secretary Williams that he had come to the United States on a purely good will visit. Mr. Murumbi also made it clear that the Commission recognizes that in any meetings of the delegation with the U.S. Govt it would be inappropriate to discuss matters affecting the sovereignty of the Dem Rep of the Congo.

In welcoming Mr. Murumbi’s assurances, Assistant Secretary Williams asked Mr. Murumbi to convey to Prime Minister Kenyatta the sympathetic understanding of the United States Government that the Prime Minister is engaged in a most significant undertaking in the service of Africa, to the success of which the United States attaches great importance. Mr. Williams asked that, with this in mind, Prime Minister Kenyatta be assured of the desire of the United States to cooperate with the OAU in every appropriate way. Mr. Williams emphasized that the limited U.S. military assistance to the Congo is at the request of the sovereign Government of the Congo to assist it in maintaining law and order. He pointed out that U.S. military assistance has been provided to the Government of the Congo for a number of years, first through the United Nations and, subsequently, under agreements fully consistent with UN resolutions and with the final report of the UN Secretary General on UN operations in the Congo.

In acknowledging the sovereign rights of the Congo to request and accept military assistance from the U.S., Mr. Murumbi assured Mr. Williams that this was not at issue. He explained that the Commission’s objective was rather to seek the cooperation of the United States in the Commission’s efforts to support and encourage the efforts of the Government of the Congo in the restoration of national reconciliation. In this connection, he welcomed Assistant Secretary Williams’ assurances of cooperation.

Mr. Murumbi and Assistant Secretary Williams agreed that the conversation had been most helpful in clarifying the views of the Commission and of the U.S. Government and in establishing a general framework for cooperation between them.

It has also been arranged for Mr. Murumbi and M. Pognon to pay a courtesy call on the Secretary of State before leaving Washington.”

If there is agreement by OAU delegation language of first and last paras would be modified to show entire delegation being received. In addition to Botsio, Beavogui (Guinea) also expected. In his consultations Murumbi will suggest other members, Nigeria and Ghana be represented by local Ambassadors.

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Nigeria’s Chargé informed of above and states present instructions would not permit him participate as Nigeria considers mission to US ultra vires. However, in light of proposed joint press statement recognizing sovereign rights of Congo, is seeking new instructions. Since it obviously desirable have Nigerians present you should point out changed circumstances to GON and urge that Chargé or Adebo be authorized attend. We also strongly prefer entire exercise be completed tomorrow rather than have new round of publicity as would be case if reception of OAU delegation delayed to later date. Also preferable delegation be received before opening of Non-Aligned Conference Cairo. Thus preferable an on-the-spot Nigerian representative be authorized attend rather than have representative sent from Lagos for later meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 OAU. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Strong and approved by Palmer. Repeated to Accra, Addis Ababa, Brussels, Cairo, Conakry, Leopoldville, Mogadiscio, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Tunis, Yaounde, and USUN.