391. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


To counter all the gloom I’ve been purveying, I do see a bit of blue sky in the Congo. Not much as yet, but with all our sweat to get a political track going, and Tshombe finally saying what we told him,2 we now see signs the East Africans and OAU secretariat at least want to get a political reconciliation going too.

First big hurdle is 29 January OAU ad hoc (Congo) commission session in Nairobi. If our moderate friends stand tall there (as we’ve urged), and East Africans are halfway reasonable, we may get something started. Most important is to get the fighting stopped and the palaver underway, before a rebel counter-offensive puts us back in the soup.

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After this comes the big OAU Foreign Ministers meeting in late February. Here we’ll try behind-the-scenes to marshal all our friends in favor of an OAU-sponsored political settlement.

Any number of things could go wrong, but what’s important is that we at last see an African way to reach an African solution of an African problem. If it only gets underway, we can disengage discreetly behind its cover, and with a fairly good chance of retaining in Leoville a government which serves U.S. and Belgian interests. It may or may not include Tshombe, but at the moment he’s still front runner.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. X, Cables, Memos & Miscellaneous, 12/64. Secret.
  2. Telegram 4331 to Cairo, January 26, described Tshombe’s January 21 speech to the African Ambassadors in Leopoldville as generally conciliatory in tone and one that should help to improve his image with other African leaders. The Ambassador was instructed to bring the speech to Nasser’s attention as evidence of Tshombe’s desire to cooperate with other African states and to emphasize the following points: 1) Tshombe’s firm intention to hold elections in March; 2) the Congolese Government’s willingness to extend “full collaboration” to the OAU; 3) his invitation to Kenyatta to hold the next Ad Hoc Commission meeting in Leopoldville; and 4) his statement that the Congolese Government had no objection to the recent Security Council resolution. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)