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

989. Following BrubeckStruelens conversation tonight, Struelens is calling Tshombe immediately to urge importance of seeing Ambassador soonest and to impress on Tshombe need to cooperate in our proposal for control of air operations and for public statements thereon.

In light of Struelens proposed approach to Tshombe we believe you should, in first conversation with Tshombe, avoid any implication of threat of US control or withdrawal of aircraft, and you should not ask Tshombe himself to stand-down aircraft. Approach should be confined to stressing importance of problems and imminence of danger to foreign nationals Stanleyville, and to urging, for this reason, need for proposed statement by Tshombe at earliest time.

You should also stress humanitarian concern for all civilians and all foreign nationals affected, avoiding stress on US official hostages at Stanleyville.

[Page 422]

You should further make clear that our support for this approach is in part because we believe it is best way to prevent series of escalating blackmail demands by rebels based on threats to foreign nationals. You should point out that, in any event, as stated in Secretary’s letter, US is firm in support to GOC and will not withdraw assistance under threat of blackmail.

FYI: This does not, of course, alter instructions to continue de facto stand-down pending solution to problem. If no satisfactory arrangement is reached with Tshombe on this basis we will need consider again a tougher approach. We have, of course, given Struelens no hint that control already being exercised.

New Subject: Struelens expressed surprise regarding difficulty in seeing Tshombe and indicated misgivings about some staff people around Tshombe in handling such matters. In light this comment, we would be interested in knowing, if you can tell us, through whom your request for appointment was relayed. End FYI.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Drafted by Brubeck, cleared by Palmer and in substance by Ball, and approved by Richard Straus in S/S-O. Repeated to Brussels.
  2. Telegram 992 to Leopoldville, October 19, reported that, following his conversation with Brubeck, Struelens talked twice to Tshombe, who agreed to issue a statement that he would order the Congolese air force to limit its operations to military objects. The telegram also transmitted the text of a draft statement and instructed Godley to see Tshombe and urge some revisions in it. (Ibid.)