521. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Congo Situation Report

1. Our C–130’s flew two missions yesterday, dropping ammunition and supplies to Congolese forces.

2. At 10:00 A.M. today, our time, a C–130 left Kinshasa on the first of the humanitarian missions you discussed with Secretary Rusk. This one is carrying 6 tons of AID foodstuffs to Bukavu. It will stop at racially-tense Lubumbashi (formerly Elisabethville) on the way back to buck up the frightened white community. Other such missions are in the works.

3. The situation in Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville) remains unchanged. We have been wracking our brains to think of a way to start negotiations with the mercenaries to free the hostages. The present plan is to send a clearly-marked Red Cross plane, flown by Swiss Red Cross personnel who have been designated International Red Cross representatives. The plane would approach Kisangani, try to raise the mercenaries on the radio and proceed to land whether or not the mercenaries had given their clearance. We have ICRC authorization, and the mission will probably be flown tomorrow.

4. The Red Cross mission will use a non-U.S. plane. If it works, however, we can expect a request to use the larger U.S. aircraft to make the actual evacuations.

5. We have a third-hand report this morning that the mercenaries may be trying to get word to us that they would allow an evacuation of the hostages. This is only a fragmentary report of a Congolese contact with an unidentified aircraft which had passed over Kisangani. However, we will follow it up.

6. We may get trouble on the Hill today because of an A.P. ticker item this morning (A.P.–3) quoting the Congolese Minister of the Interior that there have been instances of Congolese cannibalism of whites in Lubumbashi. This is the Minister whom Mobutu has sent on a grand tour of the Congo to quiet down racial fears. It is most unlikely that he would have said this, particularly since we have no indication from our excellent consul in Lubumbashi that any such thing has occurred. The [Page 763] Congolese Embassy in Paris has already issued denial that the Minister said anything of the kind. We have sent a flash inquiry to our people in the places involved.

7. Our best guess is that what the Minister of the Interior really did was to refer to the bayoneting of 8 Europeans last week. That incident is known to the press, and things have been pretty quiet in Lubumbashi since. Of course, neither of these fine points will keep our brethren on the Hill from using this news against us.

8. The list of other countries helping Mobutu is growing slowly. Ethiopia has promised some jet fighters; Ghana will send pilots and crews; and Guinea has offered to send 12 MIGs. Mobutu is wrestling with the Guinean offer because of Sekou Toure’s strong leftward leanings and possible trouble with the other Africans if he accepts.

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. XIII, Memos & Miscellaneous, 11/66–8/67. Confidential.