563. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

5723. For Under Secretary from McBride:

1. Mobutu received me Saturday morning on board boat. I outlined in full Dept’s instructions as contained in State 70801.2 I stressed Dept’s view about public outcry in US in event Katangese harmed after their return to Congo. I made all six numbered points contained in paragraph five.

2. Mobutu said he was deeply shocked and disappointed in Dept’s refusal to help him. He said ICRC had withdrawn from operation and there was no possibility of calling them back into game. I said that under my instructions, I was therefore forced to tell him US could not furnish any aircraft assistance whatever in connection with resettlement of Katangese. Mobutu replied simply in that event, Congo would have to take care of transport problem herself by other means.

3. With regard to Katangese, Mobutu gave me lengthy description of his plans for handling them. He insisted that they had all decided to return to Congo and that Bomboko had held personal conversation with Monga who wished to be reintegrated into life of Congo. He said he had decided to place Katangese for a period of a few months in Iberu near Mbandaka and he wanted to start movement by air from Kigali as soon as possible. He said he felt Katangese might be in some danger if they went to Katanga while so many ANC units were still in Kamina area and it was for reason of guaranteeing their protection that he was sending them to Iberu where only soldiers were a few Katangese. Mobutu added that if Dept was so worried about future of these men, he was willing to establish an international commission that could visit them every two weeks to see they were not being harmed.

4. Mobutu added that furthermore full prestige of OAU was behind this resettlement of Katangese. He said they would be permitted to resettle elsewhere in Congo after brief period. Mobutu stated he was going on radio later today to read his full declaration on this subject and to explain to Congolese people why it was essential these Katangese be peacefully reintegrated into life of country even though they had borne arms against ANC. He said he felt very deeply about this.

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5. With regard to para 5(A) of Dept’s instruction, Mobutu said he could give most categoric assurances on this point. He said full weight of Africa was behind this solution and effective implementation of amnesty. Reverting to ICRC, Mobutu said they had withdrawn and it was not possible to consider having them again interrogate Katangese after OAU had already done so, and important point was to get Katangese resettled in Congo. Mobutu insisted that he was satisfied pressure had not been used on Katangese. I said we had reports to contrary, but he denied these.

6. I reiterated Dept’s concern at reaction in US both publicly and in government circles if Katangese were mistreated. Mobutu said he was profoundly hurt Dept doubted his word as to their safety. He said amnesty decree was a law of the nation and must be observed. Mobutu continued saying that, far from adding to his difficulties, Dept should be helping him with problem of resettling Katangese. He said he simply failed to understand Dept’s attitude regarding an internal Congolese problem which he thought could achieve a satisfactory solution especially if Congo’s friends could help. I repeated Dept’s refusal to assist with aircraft in any way under circumstances he outlined. He repeated Congo would simply have to proceed with her own resources (“se debrouiller”).

7. Mobutu concluded with fairly impassioned statement about his surprise that his word as Chief of State was being doubted by Dept, and expressed regret US was not helping in this operation. He said apparently Dept did not trust him, and this of course was blow to him.

8. Comments follow.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Brussels, Kigali, the Mission in Geneva, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Document 562.