319. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

989. Ref: Leopoldville’s 1869, rptd Brussels 1045.2

For Brussels and Leo: Dept wishes assure that Washington, Brussels and Leo all equally understand that our willingness to engage with GOB in joint contingency planning does not indicate that we predisposed towards intervening militarily in Congo. Purpose of planning is simply to be prepared for any contingency. It would only be in event demonstrated imminent peril to foreign community Stan that we would consider rescue operation involving US military participation and then only after decision at highest levels USG. Believe this was made fully clear to Spaak and Davignon when they were here but if Brussels or Leo believes there is slightest reason for misunderstanding, they should immediately make this clear to their Belgian colleagues.

For Brussels: Against foregoing background Dept fully concurs your action in seeing Spaak to express concern re De Kerchove’s instructions (Embtel 933, rptd Leo 370).3

We understood De Kerchove’s primary mission on arrival Leo was to secure Tshombe’s and Kasavubu’s assent to Kasavubu’s issuance declaration. (In addition, he would of course deliver Spaak’s letter re Rothschild Plan.) We regard it as matter greatest importance that time provided by VDW’s pause to regroup and resupply should be used as agreed with Belgians. Time is rapidly running out and we hope GOB will urgently instruct De Kerchove, as we are Godley, to initiate approaches to Kasavubu and Tshombe immediately.

Additional instructions on control of military operations follow in separate tel.

For Leo: Re penultimate para reftel, your assumption does not accord with what Dept believes should be relative priorities based on talks with Belgians here. First priority emphasis in terms of timing is on [Page 465] earliest possible political initiative, with any approach to GDRC connected with contingency planning coming at such time as circumstances require. You should therefore see De Kerchove soonest and concert with him re your parallel recommendations as to when Tshombe should be informed of contingency plan. Dept’s view is GDRC should not be consulted until last possible moment after need for drop clear.

You should then coordinate with De Kerchove at once re earliest possible approaches to Tshombe and Kasavubu to seek agreement on issuance Kasavubu declaration. If De Kerchove not prepared for any reason to move before you, you should not any longer delay your démarche but should act at once, following Tshombe to Congo Central if necessary to accomplish this mission. Reply your 13534 in separate tel. Advise re your plans soonest.

Dept regards both importance and urgency of your démarche and of issuance Kasavubu declaration as being underlined by disturbing developments reported Dar’s 10135 and possibly by [telegram number not declassified],6 both of which being repeated to you separately.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Top Secret; Flash; Exdis. Drafted by Palmer and McElhiney in AF/CWG; cleared by Harriman, Colonel Gall in DOD, Brubeck, and Fredericks; and approved by Palmer. Repeated to Leopoldville.
  2. Dated November 13. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 933 from Brussels, November 13, MacArthur reported that he expressed to Spaak his personal doubts about the wisdom of prematurely informing Tshombe regarding their contingency plan for Stanleyville. Spaak agreed and instructed De Kerchove to concert with Godley upon arrival in Leopoldville as to when to inform Tshombe. Spaak also told the Ambassador that his own feeling was that the sooner Stanleyville was liberated the better in terms of the safety of the foreign hostages. (Ibid.)
  4. Dated October 5. (Ibid., POL 8)
  5. Dated November 13. (Ibid., POL 9 EUR W–TANZAN)
  6. Telegram not found.