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

2519. 1. Tshombe called in Belgian Chargé Puttevils and myself this afternoon to officially inform us that after long consideration by “President and Cabinet,” GDRC had decided it could not go along with cease-fire as proposed in SC resolution. Puttevils quickly told Tshombe he had message from Spaak (text of which we repeating separately) which urged GDRC accept resolution but leave to SYG and OAU responsibility for working out concrete proposal, during which time GDRC would reserve full freedom. Spaak’s principal point was that rebels would have to lay down arms first and then allow GDG freedom of movement in rebel-held territory.

2. I told Prime Minister that I had no instructions on points raised in Spaak’s memo but in line with memo could envisage procedure whereby combined effect of statements by Western members of SC plus statement of intention by GDRC Rep would establish interpretation of resolution which would make it possible for Tshombe accept. Explained this often is done in SC, as resolution is only what members of Council say it is.

3. Tshombe listened carefully and then repeated all arguments against cease-fire which he had used with me on Thursday and as recorded (ourtel 2512).2 Both Puttevils and I tried to combat these arguments, urging him to be forthcoming with both Western members of SC and moderate Africans in New York. To no avail.

4. Tshombe said firm decision had been taken by GDRC to ask US and other friends of Congo in SC amend resolution to eliminate cease-fire plus certain other objectional points (mercenaries), and if this not possible not to support resolution. Note: Tshombe working on basis text I had given him Thursday, not actual draft tabled by IC and Morocco. Tshombe said he wanted USG and GOB to realize that GDRC took very grave view of cease-fire proposal and, even as explained by Spaak, it not acceptable. Mere use of words “cease-fire” imply legal existence of two parties. He insisted again and again that proposal had been given most serious consideration but said USG and GOB must not underestimate dangers which would stem from passage of SC resolution embodying cease-fire. He then gave us both copies of GDRC memo [Page 546] on subject, which being repeated by septel.3 Tshombe reminded us that he had successfully fought proposal for cease-fire in Addis long and knew what radical Africans had in mind when they proposed this measure. Nothing which US or other might say in SC would change fact that radical Africans and other enemies of Congo would put interpretation on resolutions unfavorable to Congo and would use cease-fire to build up rebels.

5. Since it clear after more argument that Tshombe adamant in rejecting cease-fire, I urged him instruct Idzumbir to make statement in SC which would emphasize all the positive things Kasavubu [garble—and?] he had said publicly about GDRC’s program for national reconciliation. Also urged him instruct Idzumbir work closely with USUN and Belgian Del in drafting GDRC statement to SC, so that statements all three dels would follow same line as far as possible. Tshombe said he would so instruct Idzumbir. Also recalled that he had accepted OAU resolution passed at Addis and positive line contained in that resolution still represents policy of his government.

6. As we left Tshombe again emphasized that GDRC takes very grave view of fact USG and GOB asking it to accept cease-fire, which President and all members of Cabinet were convinced would result in participation [partition?] of Congo.

7. Comment: Tshombe tired and grave but at no point did he resort to threats. Puttevils and I judge that although GDRC have taken firm decision against SC resolution, we may be able get relatively positive declaration of intention from Idzumbir in SC.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash. Repeated to Brussels, CINCSTRIKE, and USUN and passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 375.
  3. Not found.
  4. Telegram 1687 to Leopoldville, December 28, reported that a revised resolution was tabled that afternoon. The revised text continued to contain an appeal for a cease-fire, but the U.S. Delegation succeeded in getting a specific reference to the September 10 OAU resolution included as a way to meet Tshombe’s concern. The Department emphasized that it was essential that Tshombe not place himself in the position of rejecting or violating the Security Council resolution, since this would give the enemies of the Congo a basis for continuing their assistance to the rebels. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)