549. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

38356. 1. We are encouraged by developments reported Kinshasa’s 42012 and 4203.3 OAU seizure leadership on question peaceful evac of mercs4 gives promise problem can be grappled with and that Congo’s neighbors, as well as Mobutu, will receive political cover they need. Realize that, of course, there many problems still to be faced and that, ultimately, merc agreement needed. Still some unknowns and would appreciate comments.

2. What is ICRC initial reaction? Has it been informed and by whom? Will it receive formal request to act from OAU? Does it still believe that SYG must make formal request or does it share our view that this need overtaken by OAU action?

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Haverkamp and Brown, cleared by Arthur R. Day in IO, and approved by Brown. Also sent to Brussels and the Mission in Geneva, and repeated to USUN, CINCSTRIKE, Kigali, Bujumbura, Lusaka, and Bangui.
  2. Telegram 4201 from Kinshasa, September 15, reported on a meeting of African leaders commissioned by the OAU to implement the September 13 OAU resolution on peaceful evacuation of the mercenaries. After some pressure from the other Chiefs of State, Rwandan President Kayibanda agreed to let the mercenaries be evacuated via Rwanda under the auspices of the ICRC, Zambian President Kaunda offered the use of two C–130s for the evacuation, and Central African Republic President Bokassa offered troops for security during the evacuation. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated September 15. (Ibid.)
  4. The fourth meeting of the OAU Heads of State took place in Kinshasa September 11–14. On September 13, the Organization of African Unity adopted a resolution calling on the mercenaries to depart under the supervision of “an international body” and pledging assistance to the Congo in the event the mercenaries did not take advantage of the offer.