541. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Rwanda1

24081. Request Embassy deliver following message from President to President Kayibanda; dated August 19, 1967:

“Dear Mr. President:

It was a great pleasure to see you during your recent visit to Washington2 and I deeply valued the opportunity to exchange views with you on a number of subjects of importance to our two countries.

I am prompted to write you at this time because of our mutual concern about the situation in the Congo and our common interest in seeing an early end to the mercenary-led rebellion.

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I have viewed with considerable hope the Congolese plan to permit the withdrawal of the mercenaries and Katangans to Rwanda, the evacuation of the mercenaries out of Africa and the eventual voluntary repatriation of the Katangans. I believe this plan is eminently designed to meet the objective which you and we both seek and we have therefore given it our full support.

If the plan can be successfully carried out, it would eliminate the mercenary presence, end the specter of further bloodshed and permit the resumption of normal activity in the Congo. Most important to you is that an unsettling situation on your border will be ended. We are convinced that if the rebellion is not ended as quickly as possible, the future effects in both Rwanda and the Congo could be very serious.

The United States is, as you know, interested in the stability, security and development of central Africa. Therefore, even though we have no nationals among the mercenaries, we are prepared to cooperate with Rwanda, the Congo, Belgium, France, and other countries and international organizations to facilitate the implementation of this plan. Meanwhile, I would like to assure you that we will make every effort to assist in the feeding of the Katangans while they remain in Rwanda through the provision of available PL 480 foodstuffs.

Since time is of the essence, I strongly hope you will be able to give your approval to this plan so that this threat to the security and well-being of the area can be brought to an end.

Lyndon B. Johnson

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 RWANDA. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Palmer, cleared by Katzenbach and President Johnson, and approved by Rusk.
  2. President Kayibanda was in the United States August 13–14. He met informally with President Johnson at the White House on August 14.