IO Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs (Gerig)

confidential
US/A/AC.49/4

Subject: South West Africa

Participants: Ambassador Jooste, Embassy of the Union of South Africa
Mr. B. J. Jarvie, Embassy of the Union of South Africa
Assistant Secretary Hickerson
Mr. Raynor, BNA
Mr. Gerig, UND

Ambassador Jooste came in today at his request to explain the attitude of the Union Government in regard to the forthcoming negotiations with the United Nations Committee re South West Africa.

Mr. Jooste said that in his recent visit to the Union he had an opportunity to discuss this matter fully with the Prime Minister and others and he was very glad to report that the Union Government had decided not only to negotiate with the UN Committee, but that they would approach the negotiations in an attitude of hopefulness. The Union Government had not taken a “frozen position” on this subject. They were prepared to be reasonable in the negotiations and hoped that the Committee would take an equally reasonable and realistic attitude toward the problem at issue.

Mr. Hickerson said that he was very gratified to hear of this decision by the Union Government in regard to the negotiations. He was particularly pleased that the Ambassador had referred to the attitude of the Union Government as not frozen, but rather that their approach would be an open-minded search for a solution.

Ambassador Jooste then referred to the date for opening the negotiations. June 18 had been mentioned by the Secretariat, but this date might be a little too early to meet the convenience of the Union since the Ambassador was very anxious that Mr. Steyn, one of the legal advisers to the Union Government, should be present to assist him in the negotiations. This was the more important since Mr. Steyn would he returning to the Union before the next Assembly and would be able, therefore, to present a clear picture of the negotiations to the Prime Minister. He hoped that the delay in starting the negotiations would not be more than a week or ten days and he thought that we would be hearing from the Secretariat on this matter in a few days.

The question was then raised as to the nature of the meetings—should they be open or closed. It was agreed by all present that such negotiations could only be conducted in private. Mr. Hickerson suggested [Page 681]that Mr. Gerig should get in touch with the Chairman of the Committee, Prince Wan, to see whether he would not consult with the other members of the Committee in favor of closed meetings. Mr. Gerig thought that the press might make some difficulties and suggested that perhaps the Chairman might be entrusted by the Committee to make brief and general statements in regard to the progress of the negotiations. Mr. Jooste, however, felt that even this might be disadvantageous since an impression might be given out which would require some explanation his part. It was generally agreed that the negotiations should be conducted in closed meetings, it being understood, of course, that the conclusions and report would be openly discussed by the General Assembly later on.

Ambassador Jooste repeated in closing the conversation that Dr. Malan held very strongly to the opinion that if there was no hope in arriving at an agreement it would be better not to have any negotiations at all. The fact that the Union Government was agreeing to negotiate was evidence that they still entertained hope that the results would be fruitful.