398. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

2042. It is evident that we are approaching another very crucial phase of Congo situation. Failure thus far of Ad Hoc Subcommission to go to Leo2 and encouraging sounds out of Nouakchott3 reinforce our belief that we must continue our pressure on GDRC to maintain forthcoming, reasonable stance in order encourage moderates and fix blame for intransigence on radicals.

Current East African clamor over alleged bombing Uganda border towns4 is probably due mixture genuine fear plus concerted effort scare us into dropping Tshombe and/or goad him into extreme stance. Also perhaps to justify Uganda support of rebels. Our position on Tshombe is unchanged. We did not, repeat not, put him in power—Kasavubu did. Only Kasavubu can remove him and unless that happens he remains head of govt as far as we are concerned. Meanwhile we are being required pay heavy political price in some parts Africa for our support GDRC. Our ability to continue will depend therefore on Tshombe’s capacity to politic in next two weeks.

Ambassadors Deming, Attwood and Leonhart are all returning their respective posts within a week. All three agree that further conciliatory [Page 580] gestures from Leo will strengthen their hands as it will those of moderates at FonMin conference Nairobi Feb 26. While we will have further suggestions for GDRC stance at Nairobi later immediate problem is Uganda border incident. You are requested to see Tshombe at earliest convenience, review philosophy outlined above and endeavor persuade him to take initiative soonest, if possible before week end. You may point out that ideas which follow are basically tactical and probably will not be accepted.

A public statement accompanied by specific messages to appropriate chiefs of state to effect GDRC desires good relations with all neighbors including Uganda. As entire world knows GDRC engaged in putting down armed rebellion and unfortunately that rebellion being supplied and directed via safe-havens in neighboring countries. Congolese army and air force have strict instructions respect international boundaries regardless provocations. This not always easy in heat of battle near a border. Question of sanctity of borders has greatly concerned GDRC for some time. It appears that Uganda is now equally concerned therefore it would seem appropriate time to reach mutual agreement to assure no further border violations from either side. GDRC willing discuss with GOU at any time and place how to remove this irritant to their relations. Specifically GDRC would propose stationing of small observer force along common border, force to be supplied by mutually agreed upon OAU member or members. This solution would have additional advantage, once aid to rebellion had been stopped and other African security forces are made available, of permitting the GDRC to begin fulfilling its desire to send South African mercenaries home in accordance with Addis and SC resolutions. Or, if GOU has other suggestions, GDRC would like to hear and consider them. Interests of peace and African solidarity require that two countries come to agreement.

Comment: While recognizing psychological hazards to be overcome in Congo to get agreement to offer such program it is clear that something like it or worse may come out of meetings ahead and advantages of their taking initiatives are great. If pattern could be set with one neighbor, rest could be handled separately. GOU refusal to consider is possible if not probable but would certainly put the burden on them. Furthermore Tshombe owes it to his new UAMCE supporters to keep ball rolling and to put opposition on the defensive.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by McIlvaine; cleared by Trimble, AFE Director Jesse M. MacKnight, Davis, and Amitay; and approved by Harriman. Repeated to Nairobi, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Lagos, Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Monrovia, Paris, London, Brussels, USUN, DOD, CINCSTRIKE for Ramsey.
  2. Airgram A–594 from Nairobi, February 19, reported that the OAU Ad Hoc Commission met on February 13 and issued a communiqué stating that representatives of revolutionary leaders from the Congo were available for talks but no government representatives were present. The communiqué also expressed the hope that the subcommittee that was mandated to visit the Congo would carry out its mandate and report to the last scheduled session of the Commission on February 22. (Ibid., POL 3 OAU)
  3. The 13 French-speaking members of the Common Organization of African and Malagasy States (OCAM) meeting February 10–12 at Nouakchott, Mauritania, adopted a resolution opposing outside interference in the internal affairs of African countries and supporting the legal Government of the Congo.
  4. Telegram 1360 from Kampala, February 13, reported that the Ugandan Government complained that a plane believed to be American had bombed two Ugandan border villages on February 13. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 31–1 THE CONGO) Telegram 1380 from Kampala, February 16, reported that the alleged incident involved two aircraft not further identified. (Ibid.) Telegram 1452 to Kampala, February 16, transmitted a note to the Ugandan Foreign Office stating that its concern over reports that towns on the Uganda side of the Uganda–Congo border had been attacked by unidentified aircraft should appropriately be expressed to the Congolese Government. The note also stated that no Americans, official or otherwise, were operating combat aircraft in the Congo. (Ibid.)