481. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Exchange of Views with Congo (K) Foreign Minister Bomboko


  • U.S.
  • Joseph Palmer 2nd, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
  • W. Paul O’Neill, AFI
  • Congo (Kinshasa)
  • H.E. Justin Bomboko, Foreign Minister and two assistants (?)

Foreign Minister Bomboko opened the conversation by saying that he had taken certain measures so that action on the Congo Parliament’s resolution on the closing of foreign consulates would be suspended until his return to Kinshasa. This had already been announced on the radio. Mr. Palmer said he had received the same news from the American Embassy in Kinshasa and he wished to thank Mr. Bomboko for his helpfulness.

Mr. Bomboko then turned to the Congo complaint in the Security Council against Portugal on the subject of Portugal’s alleged training of mercenaries for action against the Congo.2 The Foreign Minister said that the Congo had taken into account the opinions of Security Council members and that the first draft resolution, which was too strong, had been amended. The Congo Delegation had itself been a Devil’s Advocate and had persuaded its African friends to put together a resolution which demanded the minimum and had a better chance to pass. Mr. Bomboko said it would be difficult to go back to the Congo without a resolution and he was therefore asking Mr. Palmer as one who understood the situation to help so that he could return as soon as possible to Kinshasa where he wanted to protect President Mobutu from demagogic [Page 704] pressures. The Foreign Minister said he would return immediately after the Security Council’s intervention was completed. Reemphasizing the importance of his returning to Kinshasa, Mr. Bomboko explained that was why he had asked to see Mr. Palmer today even though they were lunching together tomorrow. He reiterated that the Congo was trying to arrive at a minimum resolution and needed U.S. help. The Africans, he said, had rejected the idea of a consensus put forward by the President of the Security Council. This would not be understood in Kinshasa. Mr. Bomboko then handed Mr. Palmer a copy of a draft resolution acceptable to the Congo.

Mr. Palmer thanked the Minister for his explanation and said that as the latter knew the U.S. was doubtful as to whether there was enough evidence to make a case in the S.C. As Mr. Palmer understood it the U.S. Delegation felt nothing had been proven and this presented difficulties for the U.S. He said that he would, of course, have to discuss the matter with Ambassador Goldberg and our other representatives as he had not actively followed the debate. From what he did know, Mr. Palmer continued, the best resolution of the problem would be a resolution permitting the case to end as gracefully as possible. The Foreign Minister said it would not be understood at home if there were no resolution. The Congo had proof and Portugal had agreed in the Security Council debate that there are weapons for mercenaries in Angola. Mr. Palmer asked if this did not go back several years. The Foreign Minister answered negatively stating that Portugal admits weapons are there and if Tshombe returned he would get them. Paragraphs one and three of the proposed resolution were the minimum that the Congo could accept. Mr. Bomboko said the Congo could show that such and such planes in Angola were Congolese. He repeated that Portugal had agreed in its last speech in the S.C. that the arms were there. Mr. Palmer said he could sympathize with Mr. Bomboko’s desire to return to Kinshasa, that he would discuss the matter with Ambassador Goldberg and would follow up with Mr. Bomboko tomorrow. Mr. Palmer stated that in this connection he understood that not only the closing of foreign consulates had been suspended but also the Congo’s break with Portugal. The Foreign Minister confirmed this.

Mr. Palmer reminded the Foreign Minister that a previous resolution of the S.C. urged the Congo to get rid of its own mercenaries. He thought that if the Congo eliminated reference to Portuguese territory in its own resolution, it would make the problem of getting it through easier. Mr. Bomboko did not seem to take kindly to this suggestion although he did not altogether dismiss it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL THE CONGO–US. Confidential. Drafted by O’Neill, Jr., and cleared in draft by Palmer. The meeting was held at USUN.
  2. On September 30, the Security Council met to begin consideration of the Congolese complaint. On October 14, it voted on a four-power (Jordan, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda) draft resolution. The first operative paragraph urging Portugal not to allow foreign mercenaries to use Angola as a base of operation for interfering in the domestic affairs of the Congo was adopted 11–0 with 4 abstentions (France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States). Resolution 266 (1966), which also called upon all states to refrain or desist from intervening in the domestic affairs of the Congo and requested the Secretary-General to follow closely the implementation of the resolution, was then adopted unanimously. (U.N. Doc. S/7539) For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 558–559.