24. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, August 27, 19581


  • Yugoslav Candidacy for Presidency of United Nations General Assembly


  • The Acting Secretary
  • Mr. Franc Primozic, Chargé d’Affaires, Yugoslav Embassy
  • Mr. William I. Cargo, UNP

Mr. Primozic called on the Acting Secretary to inform him of the decision of the Yugoslav Government to put forward the name of Mr. Popovic, the Yugoslav Foreign Minister, as a candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly. He said this would be made known to the United Nations within a few days. Mr. Primozic said that Yugoslavia had played an important role in the United Nations as an independent country and had made constructive and objective proposals toward the solution of various UN problems. A major reason for Yugoslavia’s seeking the General Assembly Presidency was that it wished to affirm the independent position of the Yugoslav Government [Page 52] , bearing in mind the current dispute between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, [remainder of paragraph (3 lines of source text) not declassified]

Mr. Primozic said that he had been informed earlier by State Department officials that the United States is committed to Mr. Malik. While not wishing to comment on Mr. Malik as a personality, he said that the differing world impressions of him indicated that he was a controversial figure. Yugoslavia had been in touch with a number of the Arab leaders, particularly Foreign Minister Fawzi of the UAR. [1 sentence (14 words) not declassified] Mr. Primozic added that the general consideration favoring a European candidate was that the last European to hold office of General Assembly President was Mr. van Kleffens of the Netherlands in 1954.

Mr. Primozic asked whether the United States could extend its sympathy and support for the candidacy of Foreign Minister Popovic.

The Acting Secretary replied that the United States had made a commitment to Mr. Malik. He recalled that at the General Assembly last year, when Mr. Malik was a rival to the New Zealand candidate, we had urged him to withdraw. At that time there had been a more or less tacit understanding that if he would wait, his turn would come. The Acting Secretary said we had been informed that Mr. Malik would have the support of Chehab as well as of Chamoun.2 The situation therefore was that, since we remained committed to Mr. Malik, it was not possible to give the commitment sought by the Yugoslav Government. The Acting Secretary complimented Mr. Primozic for the eloquent manner in which he had presented his case.

Mr. Primozic referred to the possibility of a candidacy by Mr. Belaunde of Peru. He said that Yugoslavia has indicated its support for Mr. Belaunde for the 1959 General Assembly and that he believed the Latin American group would not press the Belaunde candidacy this year.

Mr. Primozic asked whether the United States would “insist until the end” on Mr. Malik’s candidacy. Governor Herter responded that we would of course act as our best interests should indicate. While it was impossible to foresee what developments might occur in the future, on the present basis, we remained firmly committed to Mr. Malik. Mr. Primozic responded that he hoped the United States would study carefully the considerations which he put forward in favor of Yugoslavia’s candidacy.

[Page 53]

At the conclusion of the discussion, the Acting Secretary asked why the Communist Chinese attacked Yugoslavia even more strongly than Moscow did. Mr. Primozic said that his personal view was that there were two reasons for this: [remainder of paragraph (12 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320/8–2758. Confidential. Drafted by Cargo and initialed by Herter.
  2. Camille Chamoun, President of Lebanon.