281. Memorandum for the Record1

M. Struelens called me from the Congo Embassy at 7:00 p.m. to say that he had just talked for a half hour to Tshombe in Paris,2 and told me the following:

1. Tshombe is issuing tonight a statement in Paris denying any intention to use “pilots of South African nation” in their operations in the Congo. Although I tried to discourage this as a little conspicuous, the Congo Embassy here plans to tell reporters about the Paris statement.3

2. Tshombe is telegraphing Leo tonight to direct that any plans for use of South African pilots should be suspended pending his return. He will look into the matter as soon as he gets there and is prepared to talk to Godley at the same time.

3. Tshombe professes that he was not really aware of the South African project but agrees that it would be a bad mistake.

4. If in the judgment of his government they have additional requirements for aircraft and personnel, he will take this up with us through Godley.

5. Tshombe plans to visit the UN in November.

6. Tshombe is prepared to set a date for a meeting of his “Council of Chiefs” as soon as “the military situation permits.”

7. Tshombe is agreeable in principle to the idea of a preliminary representative or delegation to Leo to pave the way for a full-fledged mission by the OAU Ad Hoc Commission.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Hamilton File, Congo (B). No classification marking. Drafted by Brubeck. Copies were sent to McGeorge Bundy and Palmer.
  2. Telegram 926 to Leopoldville, October 12, reported that Brubeck and Palmer emphasized the very deep U.S. concern over the South African pilot project and the problems it would create for both governments to Tshombe’s special political adviser, Michael Struelens. Struelens readily accepted their points and promised to telephone Tshombe in Paris that evening. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 6-5 THE CONGO)
  3. Telegram 2086 from Paris, October 13, transmitted the text of the communiqué released by Tshombe, which categorically denied that pilots of South African nationality had been or would be used in any sort of military operations in the Congo. (Ibid., POL 23–9 THE CONGO)
  4. Telegram 934 to Leopoldville, October 13, informed the Embassy that, in view of Tshombe’s press statement, the instructions contained in telegram 922 had been overtaken and the démarche to him on this subject should not be made. (Ibid., DEF 6–5 THE CONGO)