548. Letter From the Ambassador to Belgium (Knight) to Secretary of State Rusk1
I appreciated your frank reply to my 12352 concerning possible unilateral contingency planning on our part should the Belgians turn to us for cooperation after they would have done all they could to bring out their nationals in the Congo under conditions of the utmost gravity.
My only fear is that I did not make sufficiently clear in my telegram the emphasis which I have placed in several talks both with Foreign Minister Harmel and Davignon on the fact that they could not in a new crisis turn to us to bail them out. I have done so in pointed terms, stressing not only Vietnam and what we are doing there in the common cause with no help from our NATO Allies, but also our own grave and varied difficulties at home.
The responsiveness of the Belgians in our current project of developing a plan for the departure of the mercenaries would seem to show that my message had carried home.
As to whether we should go further now, I recommend that we let the present effort to eliminate the mercenary problem run its course. If this does not succeed, then I think I should go to Harmel and press upon him the urgent need for contingency planning by the Belgians with other members of NATO, most specially Western European members.[Page 796]
I would hope that the above action, added to the warnings which I have given, should suffice and that we could hold in reserve the option of a personal message from you.