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

63987. Ref Kinshasa 5359.2

1. Realize you have a problem with Mobutu.

2. Note that Bomboko wants intervention with Portuguese. You may tell him that we have done so in strong terms.3 We also planning issue press statement which thereafter would be carried by VOA. You can also assure him we will give Congo vigorous support in UN.

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3. If your Belgian colleague approves, you might also say that Harmel has acted.

4. Concur with thought Mobutu may turn rapidly in direction OAU and this seems to be a good idea. Without making any commitments re transport, you might encourage this idea.

5. Meanwhile, of course, ICRC goes on. You should try to make sure Mobutu does not suddenly call it off.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Brown; cleared by Day in IO, Landau in EUR/SPP, and Colonel Kennedy in OSD/ISA; and approved by Palmer. Repeated to Brussels, Kigali, Lisbon, Bujumbura, Lusaka, Addis Ababa, Lubumbashi, Luanda, the Mission in Geneva, USUN, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. On November 2, a mercenary force from Angola crossed the Congo border and entered western Katanga. In telegram 5359 from Kinshasa, November 2, McBride reported that with mercenaries “running wild” in Katanga the Congo was in for a grave period. Mobutu and Bomboko would undoubtedly ask for some U.S. action, and the Ambassador suggested a strong U.S. statement in the Security Council. He said Bomboko had already asked for another U.S. démarche with the Portuguese. Noting that Mobutu might turn to a OAU multilateral force, McBride suggested U.S. encouragement of formation of such a force and possible assistance in transporting elements to the Congo. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 63827 to Lisbon, November 2, reported that Deputy Under Secretary Kohler told Portuguese Ambassador Garin on November 2 that the U.S. Government took the gravest view of reports that mercenaries had entered the Congo from Angola. Kohler pointed out that this action, which must have been known to the Portuguese Government, might gravely prejudice the ICRC operation and endanger the lives of all Europeans living in the Congo. (Ibid.)