HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “Secretary Generalship of UN

Memorandum of Conversation, by Thomas J. Cory of the United States Mission at the United Nations

  • Subject:
  • Soviet Bloc Views on SyG Election
  • Participants:
  • Dr. Manfred Lachs, Polish Delegation
  • Thomas J. Cory, US Delegation

During Senator Green’s reception last night, Dr. Manfred Lachs of the Polish Delegation took the initiative in coming to me to inquire about US views concerning the SYG election. At first I joked with him, saying that I thought Simic of Yugoslavia would be a very good choice and that perhaps Modzelewski of Poland would be popular. It turned out, however, that he was serious and really wanted to talk. I explained that I was unacquainted with any US position on the subject and doubted whether there is one yet but personally believed that, in any event, there is no great hurry.

I then asked for his views. He said he thought Entezam would be a good Secretary General and Padilla Nervo would be an acceptable second choice. He rather dismissed General Romulo, but did not definitely rule him out. He replied negatively to my inquiry whether the Soviet bloc was thinking at all of an Indian as a candidate. I asked him point-blank whether he was making small talk or was under instructions to speak with someone from the US delegation on the subject. He said he was under instructions.

Dr. Lachs continued that the Soviet bloc would see as highly desirable, if not necessary, a private meeting of the Big 4 (excluding China) on the question. He dismissed as unimportant my views that China still has a veto and that Chinese feelings on the subject also should be considered. He argued that China is only a shadow state which will, in any event, fall in line behind the US.

Dr. Lachs added that the Soviet bloc would see US–USSR agreement on a new Secretary General as an important step forward in the reduction of US–USSR tensions. When I pinned him down, he admitted it would be only a very small step forward. Dr. Lachs also spoke [Page 427] with great piety of the high Soviet bloc regard for the UN and the importance it attaches to having at its helm a capable man who is acceptable to the major interested powers.

Saying that since I was without instructions I was speaking only personally, I observed that as I saw Lie’s recent action, it was only an intention to resign rather than an actual and irrevocable resignation and that if no agreement is reached as to his successor, I would assume that Lie would return to the Secretary Generalship with a ringing vote of confidence from the General Assembly. This analysis was unpleasant to Dr. Lachs. He said he interpreted Lie’s resignation as final and that, in any event, he could see no rousing vote of confidence from the General Assembly. We agreed that on this point our interpretations are for the present irreconcilable.

Dr. Lachs said he believed a large portion of our conversation probably was academic because he understood Mr. Eden had called a meeting yesterday afternoon or evening to discuss the question. Dr. Lachs did not specify who was attending the meeting, and I knew nothing of it.

(I would observe that Dr. Lachs’ statements concerning Soviet bloc preferences for Secretary General coincide with Soviet-inspired rumors now circulating around the Delegates’ Lounge. These rumors, however, to my knowledge make no mention of big power consultations.

Dr. Lachs’ attitude during the conversation indicated that the USSR is strongly opposed to the continuance in office of Lie and that, if properly played by the US, Soviet aversion to Lie may be an important trump card for the US in negotiating an agreement with the USSR on his successor, should that be necessary. I also would observe that Dr. Lachs’ insistence on a private Big 4 rather than a Big 5 meeting is probably bluff. Jacob Malik had no objection to sitting down with Dr. Tsiang last August to discuss membership.

In connection with this conversation as well as another we had on Korea (which is being reported separately), Dr. Lachs argued that the USSR has taken a small initiative toward private talks with the US bloc on both subjects and that it is incumbent on the US now to take a larger counterinitiative to meet the USSR and thus contribute toward bringing the two powers together. I argued that I had seen little real Soviet initiative on either question and that the proper thing would be for the USSR to be less coy, to come forward in an honest manner if it has anything it wishes to discuss with the US, and not to depend on the US falling all over itself trying to act on what are after all only the vaguest of hints from the USSR. Because of its bearing on the potentially much more important subject of Korea, I would suggest that the US be very cautious about taking any initiative in setting up private Big 4 or Big 5 talks on the SYG question. [Page 428] This may turn out to be one subject on which we can let the USSR come to us. Alternatively, Dr. Tsiang—as President of the Security Council—might wish to call for private Big 5 consultations on the question.)