26. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, August 28, 19581
- Postponement of 13th General Assembly and Presidency
- M. Nadim Dimechkie, Lebanese Ambassador
- NEA—Mr. William M. Rountree
- IO—Mr. John Hanes
- NEA—Mr. James M. Ludlow
The Lebanese Ambassador called today at his request to indicate Dr. Malik’s position concerning possible postponement of the forthcoming General Assembly.[Page 55]
Mr. Rountree commenced the conversation by telling the Ambassador that our latest information was that the movement toward possible postponement of the General Assembly until the end of the month had practically come to a halt. We now understood that the UN Secretariat felt that it was too late to effect postponement. It was the feeling of many delegations that, while they would have been prepared to go along with a possible postponement, they would not wish to take the initiative. As for the US, we were ready to proceed with the General Assembly as scheduled but would have been prepared to agree to postponement if the necessary number of delegations so desired.
The Ambassador indicated that this information appeared to remove the necessity for his visit. Mr. Rountree then asked concerning Dr. Malik’s views on postponement, to which the Ambassador replied that Dr. Malik had been deeply concerned that postponement of the session might create, unnecessarily, opportunities for other candidates for the Presidency. He had been so concerned over this prospect that he had asked the Ambassador to enlist our support in opposition to postponement.
Mr. Rountree, with Mr. Hanes concurring, expressed our view that while we understood Dr. Malik’s reason put forth by the Ambassador, we felt that proceeding with the session as scheduled might well seriously lessen his chances of election. If the election occurred prior to General Chehab’s assumption of the Presidency of Lebanon, a number of delegations might well question whether Dr. Malik would in fact have the confidence and support of that incoming administration.
The Ambassador explained that the constitutional situation in Lebanon was such that General Chehab could not assure that Dr. Malik would in fact have official endorsement of the Lebanese Government after Chehab assumed the Presidency. He pointed out that the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister would have this responsibility. While he, the Ambassador, was reasonably confident that the new Government would be willing to support Dr. Malik, nothing could constitute official endorsement now.
Mr. Rountree reiterated his belief that a public statement, possibly through the press, would be helpful in persuading many delegations that Dr. Malik continues to have the support of his Government.
The conversation concluded with a general recognition of the fact that while there was only one other official candidate in the field for the Presidency of the General Assembly, a number of other candidates could develop very quickly in the days to come.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320/8–2858. Confidential. Drafted by Ludlow.↩