547. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Portugal1

32529. Ref: Lisbon’s 257 (Notal).2

1. Dept Asst Sec Trimble called in Portuguese Chargé September 5 to express our concern over situation in Congo, particularly reports of mercenaries gathering in Angola and plotting against Mobutu, along lines para 4 reftel. After noting information that has been brought to our attention concerning mercenary presence and activities in Angola, and report that 30 or more mercenaries landed Bukavu from unknown destination September 1st, Trimble pointed out that failure settle mercenary problem could mean serious risk of Mobutu accepting proffered Communist aid and realigning his policy, not only to detriment Free World interests in Congo, but also to detriment Portuguese interests. Further, Trimble stressed that continued merc presence in Congo or arrival reinforcements would result in increased racial tension in Congo threatening lives of Africans and foreigners, including Americans and Portuguese.

2. In reply Chargé’s question as to sources our information, Trimble said it came from many sources in many countries and directly from mercenaries and not repeat not from Congolese Government. In conclusion, Trimble requested Chargé inform his government of knowledge that had come to our attention as we share mutual interest in encouraging stability and doing whatever possible to prevent further violence and bloodshed in Congo.

3. Chargé promised to report conversation and asked if anything being done to get mercenaries out of Congo. Trimble outlined our views on present evacuation proposals. Chargé then said his government had considered what attitude to adopt toward mercenaries if they go to Angola but did not indicate that any decision had been reached.

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4. Comment: We confident Chargé got message and hope his report will discourage GOP from permitting any mercenary adventure from Angola.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Haverkamp, cleared by Schaufele and Landau, and approved by Trimble. Repeated Priority to Brussels, Kigali, Kinshasa, London, Madrid, Paris, Pretoria, Luanda, Johannesburg, Salisbury, Lubumbashi, and CINCSTRIKE for POLAD.
  2. Telegram 257 from Lisbon, September 5, recommended that if the Department decided to call in the Portuguese Chargé, it emphasize that it had information concerning mercenary presence and activities in Angola which, in light of Portugal’s official assurances, it believed should be brought to the Portuguese Government’s attention. The telegram also recommended that the Department not base its approach on any accusations by the Congolese Government, since this would merely anger the Portuguese. (Ibid.)