Memorandum of Conversations, by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)

  • Subject:
  • A Summary of Three Conversations (June 17, 25, 27) Between Mr. Hickerson and Ambassador Wrong in Regard to Pearson’s Candidacy for Presidency of the Seventh Session of the General Assembly.

Ambassador Wrong came in to see me at his request on the afternoon of June 17. He said that he was leaving early the next morning for Ottawa and that Mr. Pearson had indicated that he wished to talk with him about our attitude concerning Pearson’s candidacy for the Presidency of the Seventh General Assembly. I asked Mr. Wrong if that meant that Pearson definitely was a candidate, adding that we understood his position was that he was available. Mr. Wrong laughingly replied that Mr. Pearson was not waiting for a draft but was a candidate although he had been reluctant to allow the Canadian Foreign Service to push his candidacy as actively as they wish to.

I told Mr. Wrong that the question of whether or not Mr. Pearson is to be a candidate is one for him and the Canadian Government, but that my frank advice would be that if he is a candidate he should not be at all coy but should authorize Canadian officers to seek support for his candidacy. Mr. Wrong said that on his own responsibility he had already informed me that Pearson was a candidate and would like our support. He said that he understood our reluctance to commit ourselves this far in advance but that Mr. Pearson really wished to know if he could count on our vote if he is a candidate.

I told Mr. Wrong that if Pearson actively campaigns for the Presidency we will vote for him. I said, however, that in my judgment it would be a mistake for us to make a formal commitment at this time or to allow the fact that we intend to vote for Pearson to become known at this time. I explained that the reason for this is that the Seventh General Assembly may well be concerned extensively with [Page 416] colonial questions and that the Asian-African group might oppose Pearson’s candidacy if it appeared to be a NATO-sponsored one. I said that it therefore seemed to me that if Mr. Pearson wishes to be elected by the large majority which we would wish him to receive the Canadians should make an active effort to secure wide support from other areas, including Asia, Africa, and Latin America, without giving any indication of the attitude of the United States toward his candidacy. Mr. Wrong said that he thought this would be a wise course and that he would recommend to Mr. Pearson that it be followed.

I told Mr. Wrong that if we are approached by other countries about our attitude in regard to Mr. Pearson’s candidacy we intended to say that we think highly of him and feel that he would make an able President but that we normally do not commit ourselves definitely so far in advance of the opening of the Session. I said that the one exception to this would be that if we were approached by a country stating that they were thinking of unveiling a candidate and would like our support; in that event I said I would be disposed to reply that we intended to vote for Mr. Pearson to head off the development of a situation similar to the one which developed in the Fifth General Assembly in 1950.

After the Canadians have built up the sort of support for Mr. Pearson’s candidacy referred to above, I said we would be glad to confer with them about the timing of a revelation that we will vote for Pearson. I added that I hoped Mr. Pearson would understand that all of these things I mentioned were honestly designed to help him and did not mean that we had any doubt or hestitation about voting for him when the time comes.

On June 25 Mr. Wrong came in to see me after his return from Ottawa. He said that he had conveyed to Mr. Pearson in some detail what I said and that Mr. Pearson expressed his deep appreciation of our attitude. Mr. Pearson agrees that it would be desirable for us not to make a formal commitment at this time and that steps should be taken to gain support for his candidacy, especially in Latin America and among the Asian-African group. Mr. Pearson expressed his deep appreciation of the assurance that the United States will vote for him if he is a candidate at the time of the election, which he fully expects to be.

On June 27 Mr. Wrong came in to see me on another matter and again adverted to this subject. He said that although Mr. Pearson regards himself as an active candidate for the Presidency, he is not moving as rapidly as, in Mr. Wrong’s opinion, is desirable to authorize Canadian representatives abroad to solicit support for him. I told Mr. Wrong that I made my views on this clear in our earlier conversations and that I could only repeat that I felt that if Mr. Pearson wishes to be President of the Seventh General Assembly Canadian representatives [Page 417] should get on the job immediately and round up support for him. I said that the United States will vote for Mr. Pearson if he is a candidate at the time of the election but that the Canadian Government will have to run the campaign and that we do not intend to do any lobbying in Mr. Pearson’s behalf. I said that I am sure that Canadian representatives can adequately handle this end of the business.

J[ohn] D. H[ickerson]