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

958. Through other channels we are ordering stand-down T–28’s and B–26’s. In addition you are hereby directed to suspend any other flights by official US or US controlled aircraft over rebel territory, e.g. C–47’s, C–130’s or other aircraft.

Without disclosing this action, you should see Tshombe immediately and, against background very deep concern re situation Stanleyville, and on basis of seeking his cooperation urge him to suspend air operations by T–28’s and B–26’s for 72 hours. FYI—Purpose is to achieve suspension by persuasion without overt resort to assertion of US control. End FYI. You should explain that we find this action necessary in order review with him and at highest levels of USG problems which we face in connection American and other foreigners at Stanleyville, pointing out that it would be neither in GOC, US nor anybody else’s interests if continued air strikes by US supplied planes result in reprisals. Purpose of 72 hour suspension is to give US and CongoLeo [Page 415] time assess problems connected with use of airstrikes and examine alternative means securing safety civilian population Stan.

You should make every effort persuade Tshombe cooperate with foregoing. If, however, he responds by threatening put T–6’s with South African mercenaries into action or to take other steps such as inviting South African intervention, you should warn him that he would thereby precipitate situation in which we might well be forced withdraw our military assistance to GOC.

Related subject: You should also take immediately all possible precautions to assure that no additional official American personnel fall into rebel hands even though this may necessitate evacuation Consulate Bukavu, USIA Luluabourg and Coquilhatville, withdrawal official US military personnel from exposed areas, etc. Further guidance re Leopoldville will follow but meanwhile you should initiate any required actions along foregoing lines with respect personnel outside capital.

For Brussels. You should inform FonOff on closely held basis we are asking Tshombe cooperation in suspension for a few days of air operations over rebel territory. You should explain purpose is avoid provocation any reprisal against Europeans while trying urgently find with Tshombe means of solving European hostage problem. Advise FonOff we will shortly have further message regarding approach we hope use with Tshombe in handling this hostage problem and will be seeking their assistance.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Top Secret; Flash; Limdis. Drafted by Palmer, cleared by Vance in DOD and Brubeck, and approved by Rusk. Repeated to Brussels.