572. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Kenya1

136714. Ref: Nairobi 3923,2 Kinshasa 8301 (Notal),3 Kinshasa 8313.4

1. Dept encouraged by developments reported Nairobi 3923 and Kinshasa 8301 to hope resolution merc problem at long last may now be in sight. We continue believe however that evacuation is primarily matter for governments directly concerned and that ICRC should be [Page 830] approaching European governments such as French and particularly Belgians without reference to us.

2. We concur completely with Kinshasa’s point (para 2 Kinshasa 8313) that we should not give Europeans any reason believe that USG willing get them off hook at last moment by providing airlift and therefore believe it important that Hoffman be set straight before idea gains currency in European, African or ICRC circles that USG might be willing consider furnishing airlift capacity.

3. Accordingly wherever Hoffman next surfaces, Embassy concerned should 1) indicate awareness Hoffman inquiry about possible use C–130, and 2) tell Hoffman that any such request should come to us through ICRC headquarters Geneva but that if he is thinking of making such a recommendation to Geneva, he should know that USG believes any evacuation arrangements should be worked out with governments whose citizens involved, any one of which should be perfectly capable of organizing satisfactory airlift with ICRC. Should ICRC approach Mission Geneva with same proposal, or should Fonoffs Brussels, Paris, London, or Rome request our views, Mission and Embassies authorized make same point without further reference to Dept.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 9-7 THE CONGO. Confidential. Drafted by Tienken; cleared by Bader in DOD/ISA, McKesson, Day in IO/UNP, Meagher, Moffat, Beigel, Cheslaw in EUR/BMI, and Dozier in EUR/AIS; and approved by Quimby. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Brussels, Bujumbura, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Fort Lamy, Kampala, Kigali, Kinshasa, Khartoum, London, Niamey, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv, Luanda, Salisbury, the Mission in Geneva, and CINCSTRIKE for POLAD Tampa.
  2. In telegram 3923 from Nairobi, March 25, Ambassador Ferguson reported that ICRC representative George Hoffman informed him that the Chairman of the OAU Committee on Mercenaries had sent letters to all committee members recommending approval of Mobutu’s plan to evacuate the mercenary contingent from Kamembe. Hoffman asked if the U.S. Government would consider use of a U.S. C–130 aircraft with the required military security complement if the French denied use of French military air transport and security guards. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 8301 from Kinshasa, March 25, reported that Niger Foreign Minister Sidikou told newsmen that he and Mobutu had had fruitful talks which would probably lead to the early resumption of relations between the Congo and Rwanda. It also reported that according to the Belgian and French Embassies, Sidikou had a full mandate from Mobutu to arrange for the departure of the mercenaries. (Ibid.)
  4. Dated March 25. (Ibid.)