350. Telegram From the Embassy in Kenya to the Department of State1
Met Kanza at 0800Z at Gatundu. Kenyatta present, as he put it, in capacity Chairman Ad Hoc Commission.
I covered first and second points instructions (reference A). Kanza then made it plain his instructions were to discuss Congo in general, including ceasefire not just “prisoners of war.” Kenyatta broke in with strong pitch for ceasefire as only solution permitting OAU go to Stanleyville and save lives.
I carefully explained not authorized discuss anything but safety hostages and reminded Kenyatta discussion between Kanza and me. Suggested best way prevent killings now would be action in line point four instructions. Said time had come all concerned to be realistic.
Kenyatta and Kanza both returned to ceasefire argument, denouncing mercenaries (who must leave Congo forthwith) and stressing total Tshombe dependence US and Belgian support. Kanza added Gbenye in full control Stanleyville though under great popular pressure execute Carlson.
Realizing no headway possible, I then suggested that in view conflicting instructions and critical situation, only way we could continue would be for me report immediately to my government and meet Kanza again when I had reply. Present meeting had at least clarified our positions. Kanza and Kenyatta agreed.
I took this action only to avoid break in discussions in accordance point six instructions.
Kenyatta said he hoped US would understand and cooperate with OAU on ceasefire, and that I would get quick reply from USG.
Kanza said Carlson alive and he would immediately notify Gbenye in Stanleyville to postpone execution while our discussions in progress.[Page 508]
With concurrence Kanza and Kenyatta, I then made following statement to press:
“I have had a preliminary discussion with Mr. Kanza, Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta attended our meeting in his capacity as Chairman of the OAU Ad Hoc Commission on the Congo. On the basis of today’s discussion, Mr. Kanza and I have agreed to meet again as soon as I have consulted my government.”
In response to question about Carlson, I replied, “Mr. Kanza assures me he is still alive.”
After meeting with Kanza, I requested few minutes alone with Kenyatta. Mathu and Koinange also remained. Outlined actual situation in line reference B and said if rescue operation becomes necessary as last resort it would be just that, with minimum loss of life, quick withdrawal, non-discriminatory, etc., aim only to prevent massacre which also disaster for Africa.
Kenyatta looked pained at prospect but I assured him this was contemplated only if all other efforts failed. Explained I told him this in confidence as Ambassador to his country. He understood, thanked me for confidence and reiterated hope our next meeting with Kanza would make paratroop action unnecessary.
Previously, while drafting my statement, we considered adding “meanwhile Kanza assured me no harm will befall civilians in Stanleyville while discussions in progress.” Kanza first agreed, then refused on grounds “mercenary” attack on Stanleyville would result in fighting and general bloodshed which would not be responsibility Stanleyville authorities. Kenyatta backed him up, using this as further argument for ceasefire.4
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Exdis. Received at 7:39 a.m. and repeated to London, Addis Ababa, Bujumbura, Brussels, USUN, Leopoldville, Geneva, and Ottawa. Passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.↩
- Document 340.↩
- Dated November 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)↩
- In telegram 1978 to Nairobi, November 23, the Department sent Attwood a flash response, informing him that the decision had been made to execute Dragon Rouge at 0400Z November 24 and instructing him to inform Kenyatta as soon as possible that he had received a response from Washington that Kanza’s proposals, which used outrageous threats against the lives of innocent civilians as blackmail to achieve a military objective, i.e., a cease-fire, were totally unacceptable. As soon as the Ambassador received the flash announcement of Dragon Rouge, he was to call Kenyatta and inform him that in view of the increased threats, the absence of adequate assurances from Kanza, and the need to protect innocent lives, it had been necessary to launch a rescue operation into Stanleyville. (Ibid.)↩