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

61969. Ref: Kinshasa 5250.2

1. We believe it preferable that first indication to Mobutu that USG may be willing furnish aircraft for Kat airlift come from ICRC rather than ourselves. We gather from your 52613 that Gafner is prepared do this whenever he next sees Mobutu. Gafner of course should mention subject to Mobutu only in context our 60775.4

2. Desirability immediate cease-fire daily becoming more pressing in light info Kigalis 749 and 750.5 We hope Gafner will get to Mobutu quickly on this matter and not only urge cease-fire at earliest possible moment but also withdrawal ANC from Bukavu perimeter.

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3. Believe you should then see Mobutu at which time you may confirm our position re aircraft. Hopefully you can then find appropriate opportunity to urge cease-fire and possibility withdrawal with Mobutu, pressing home point that continued ANC attacks may jeopardize entire evac scenario and risk calling into question GDRC’s sincerity in seeking peaceful solution within terms OAU resolution.

4. Do not believe a concerted diplomatic approach to Mobutu on cease-fire would be productive. Leave to your judgment, however, whether Apostolic Delegate could play useful role.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CONGO. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Tienken, cleared by Brown, and approved by Palmer. Repeated to the Mission in Geneva, Brussels, and CINCSTRIKE for POLAD Tampa.
  2. In telegram 5250 from Kinshasa, October 28, McBride raised the question of informing Mobutu of the possibility that the U.S. Government might be willing to furnish aircraft for the evacuation. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 5261 from Kinshasa, October 29, McBride described a lengthy talk with the ICRC team operating in Kinshasa under the leadership of Gafner. He reported that Gafner planned to be cautious in his talk with Mobutu regarding transporting the Katangans, but would indicate that the U.S. Government would probably be willing to assist if other countries also played a part. (Ibid.)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 555.
  5. Telegrams 749 and 750 from Kigali, October 30, described the fierce fighting between the ANC and the mercenaries around Bukavu. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL CONGO)