345. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

2036. Re Embtel 2022 to Dept, 1140 to Brussels.2 De Kerchove and I were given at 2115 local following all signed by Tshombe: 1) Letter dated Nov 21 to me, 2) letter dated Nov 23 to UNSYG (which we solemnly promised to [garble] and 3) draft long statement to be released just before troops parachute into Stan, if they do. Translations letters [Page 501] and statement follow separate telegrams.3 Texts of letters essentially those given Tshombe last evening with one major change, i.e. all speak of GDRC authorizing rather than requesting Belgian Govt send humanitarian force and authorizing USG furnish means of transport. De Kerchove and I both cited to Tshombe and to Mobutu, who only other person present, this major difference but both said that Kasavubu at first would not countenance any force coming here and only with great reluctance acquiesced to authorizing humanitarian effort. Reason for reluctance was “Kasavubu’s ire” and that of “all Congolese press and many others” re Spaak’s premature press release. Tshombe and Mobutu recognize and accept reasons that obliged Spaak make release, but Mobutu pointed out that even he who favors Belgian action was annoyed when he first heard of it over radio.

Mobutu and Tshombe both pled with us to preposition troops Kamina soonest. In view Deptel 1346 to Leo, 1111 to Brussels,4 we did not indicate troops on way but said that we would endeavor obtain their earliest arrival Kamina. Military here estimate ETA Kamina beginning 0600 Zulu. I intend, unless instructed otherwise, phone Mobutu and Tshombe 0500 Zulu that I have just been informed planes may be landing shortly at Kamina. We also told Mobutu and Tshombe that if troops were to go to Kamina, maximum security must be maintained. They both said this went without saying. We and Belgians of course doing everything possible assure security.

Finally upon departure I emphasized to both Tshombe and Mobutu that it should be clearly understood that if troops were to go to Kamina, this ipso facto did not mark USG’s agreement to their being lifted to Stan. I said that lift from Kamina to Stan must have Washington further approval. They both said they understood.

Re statement, we again argued at some length for original text, because Tshombe had changed “requested” in their statement to “authorized”. Although they offered release short text of declaration (Embtel 2022) tomorrow morning with “authorize”, we noted that this would tip hand to world and would violate security, for press would immediately ask what was being done pursuant to the authorization. [Page 502] Ad referendum De Kerchove and I agreed that in view firm position on “authorize” it better not issue statement for time being.5

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Top Secret; Flash; Exdis. Received at 6:39 p.m. and repeated to Brussels. Passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. Dated November 21. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 2037 from Leopoldville, November 21, transmitted the translations of Tshombe’s letters and statement. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 1111 to Brussels (repeated as telegram 1346 to Leopoldville), November 21, instructed the Embassy in Brussels to inform Spaak that the U.S. Government agreed to move the Dragon Rouge force to Kamina as soon as possible and issued the necessary instructions. Leopoldville was instructed not to inform Tshombe or other Congolese officials until shortly before the planes were due at Kamina in order to minimize the security problem. In the meantime, it was essential to obtain written requests from Kasavubu or Tshombe. (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 1356 to Leopoldville, November 21, informed the Embassy that Tshombe’s letter of authorization was acceptable, and approved Godley’s proposal to notify Tshombe and Mobutu at 0500Z of the imminent arrival of the planes at Kamina. He was to request urgently that they hold this information until, and unless, Dragon Rouge actually moved on Stanleyville. (Ibid.)