515. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Belgium1

3380. Please deliver following message from Secretary to Harmel.

“Dear Mr. Minister:

Once again we are both confronted by difficult days in the Congo. I am taking the liberty of sending you our thoughts, for as always I attach the highest importance to consultation and cooperation between us. I am most appreciative of assurances from Viscount Davignon to Ambassador Knight that you await these thoughts before replying to President Mobutu’s request for material assistance.

I agree fully with the concern of your government that some Congolese actions and statements are creating a difficult and potentially dangerous situation for foreign nationals in the Congo. We have reviewed [Page 754] at the highest level the possible actions we might take to counter this alarming trend and to bolster the Government of the Congo as it traverses one of its most serious national crises and indeed faces a threat to the Congo’s very existence as a nation. As you know we have sent 3 C–130s to Ascension Island as a precautionary measure for possible use in ferrying Congolese army troops and material. We have also instructed Ambassador McBride to persuade President Mobutu that he must end the provocative anti-white, anti-West turn in Congolese propaganda and actions, an effort which I understand may already have had a beneficial effect.

We are aware of the risks and of the significance of sending these aircraft to the Congo but we urge you to make a similar gesture, perhaps the furnishing of additional air-crews.

In my conversations on the Congo with various Senators during the past few days I found passionate interest in what others were doing to help. Specifically, the question was asked, ‘why cannot the Belgians do more?’ If, in fact, aircraft from outside the Congo are required to restore order and racial peace, our ability to help would be deeply affected by the willingness of others to take similar action.

Ambassadors Knight and McBride and the Department of State will continue to keep in close touch with you and your representatives.2

Sincerely, Dean Rusk

You may tell Harmel orally that we also attach importance to the Tshombe case and that at appropriate times and in appropriate situations we will use our influence in talks with the GDRC to persuade it observe internationally accepted norms of legal and human behavior in handling the Tshombe affair.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Drafted by Moffat; cleared by Belgian Country Director Robert Anderson, Stoessel, and Fredericks; and approved by Rusk. Repeated to Kinshasa.
  2. In telegram 144 from Brussels, July 9, Knight reported that he gave the message to Harmel that morning. Harmel and Prime Minister Boeynants expressed willingness to send two or three transport planes to assist in transporting the ANC in operations against the mercenary revolt, if the Congolese Government publicly and officially requested such assistance and if it were agreed that their return flights would carry Belgian civilians. (Ibid.) Telegram 3438 to Kinshasa, July 9, instructed the Embassy to give Mobutu the substance of telegram 144 and urge him to make an immediate request to the Belgian Government for aircraft and crews. (Ibid.)