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

22145. Brussels 573.2

1. We believe it entirely possible that Mobutu has been peddling line that US would substitute for Belgians in Congo and that Belgian technicians in Congo could well have overheard Mobutu’s recent phone calls to Mulamba and Munongo.

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2. Further believe there could be several explanations why Mobutu would peddle this line:

a) He entirely aware US position but willing run risk of using this line in effort force Belgians concede GDRC demands;

b) He may have bloc offers assistance as alternative to Belgians and is using alleged US assurances as smokescreen;

c) Despite your several efforts convince him otherwise, he may, either through wishful thinking or failure comprehend firmness US position, continue harbor conviction US will bail him out.

3. Whatever possible explanations, Dept considers it vital we make further démarche to Mobutu to make it crystal clear to him that US not willing under any circumstances to substitute in part or in whole for GOB.

4. Only way we see to scotch this is for you and Devlin jointly to see Mobutu. Without mentioning Davignon, you should say you understand story is circulating and apparently gaining credence that U.S. intelligence has said US willing fill Belgian shoes. You should say US cannot fill gaps which departure of Belgians would cause, that you urge him reach acceptable arrangements with Belgians, and that American assistance, even on present scale, would not be effective if Belgians forced leave.

5. You should try find opportunity to add that any turn to left and search for bloc assistance would do Congo no good and should not be thought of as valid alternative to policies followed up to now. There ample evidence in Brazzaville and elsewhere that substantial Soviet or other communist assistance inevitably turns sour. Moreover any such development would create entirely new situation in Congo which US would have to take into account in its future relationships with him.

6. You should also ensure foregoing views are clearly and currently known to other key members of Government.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Brown and Palmer, cleared by Edgar J. Beigel in EUR/FBX, and approved by Ball. Repeated to Brussels.
  2. Telegram 573 from Brussels, August 3, referred to a Libre Belgique story allegedly based on statements by Mobutu to members of his government that they need not worry about the possibility of a Belgian departure from the Congo since he had been assured by a U.S. representative of the CIA that if the Belgians left, the Americans would take their place. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 970 from Kinshasa, August 5, Godley reported that he and other Embassy officers told both Mobutu and Bomboko that they should not expect any additional aid from the United States. (Ibid., POL THE CONGO–US)