333. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to the Department of State0

348. To Gerig and Palmer. From Walmsley.1 Re Embtel 346.2

Eighth and final session GOC with Union representatives concluded yesterday afternoon present phase of good offices exercise Southwest Africa.
Agreement was reached on four paragraphs of operations portion of GOC report text of which, together with independent South African statement and GOC statement pouched to Gerig. The Department will note that only agreement reached related to (A) readiness of Union Government to investigate practicability of partition; (B) if investigation shows practicable, Union will formulate proposals to UN; (C) on understanding Union will undertake investigation and put forward proposals to UN, committee will be prepared to express to GA (1) opinion that a form of partition might provide a basis for agreement, [Page 725] and (2) the hope in these circumstances Union would be encouraged to carry out investigation. Although Union in its independent paragraph anticipates some details of partition. Possible trusteeship agreement, the committee expressly refrains from “any pronouncement on the merits and demerits” of the idea.
Chairman (UK)3 and Da Cunha (Brazil)4 felt very strongly that this is best that can be obtained from Union and were willing to accept text on basis of half loaf better than none. I went along reluctantly in order not to split committee but reserved position in manner quoted in separate telegram to follow.5
Important to note in foregoing connection that chairman and Da Cunha apparently totally unrestricted by instructions, and are quite prepared to support formula even if their governments do not favor. I said I could not be bound should my government or UN reach judgment that committee had exceeded terms of reference.
My conclusion is that UK member primarily guided by Commonwealth factors; and that Brazilian concern is to maintain position consistent with presumed commitment to support Portuguese in matter of reporting under Article 73(E).
Chairman in final statement repeated that GOC members in no way engage their governments in submitting coming report to GA.
Final session approved text of press statement to be released simultaneously Pretoria and UN, at 6 p.m. June 22 EDT (see Embtel 349).6 Union representative also showed committee press release it will make afternoon June 23 to effect that on conclusion of official discussions in Pretoria Union Government invited members of GOC to visit territory in personal capacity if they had the time.
UK and Brazilian members plan to accept invitation and will be in territory June 23–27. Although it might be helpful to strictly bilateral US–Union relations if I went, I believe that on balance my acceptance unwise (Deptel 402).7 Union although making public none of the discussions, is endeavoring to create impression that meeting resulted in “progress” and endeavored to say so in agreed press release. I insisted successfully on present language i.e., “the parties feel that the discussions have attained a stage where the committee is able to report, et cetera”. Such progress as may have been made require calipers to measure; but at the same time I agreed that there is nothing we can do in face of adamant attitude of Union than to report to GA. [Page 726] Moreover, in the face of gossip here and in southwest territory that partition discussed, and considering the statement and press release that “certain aspects will require further study” I feel that my visit to the territory on a guided tour will be readily interpreted as a commitment in favor of partition. Wieschoff (Secretariat) fully agrees and is himself not going. I should go he would also, in order to make it an obvious UN visit; but he believes that this would kill any remote chances there may be that the fourth committee will accept eventual South African proposals.
Secretariat plan is to circulate first draft of report to members and Union July 15, second draft August 10, and publish September 2. It was agreed with Union representatives that submission of draft to Union is only to permit it to comment on portion intended to reflect South African position. GOC members will have final say.
I am requesting reservations to depart for Brazzaville June 24, but as yet do not yet know what stops I can make conveniently in West Africa, cannot estimate ETA Washington. What are IO’s wishes concerning return date?
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320.5745X/6–2058. Confidential; Priority.
  2. Director of the Officer of Dependent Area Affairs O. Benjamin Gerig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Joseph Palmer, 2d, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Walter N. Walmsley. Walmsley was the U.S. representative on the U.N. Good Offices Committee on South West Africa, which was in Pretoria for discussions with representatives of the South African Government. The committee, established by the General Assembly on October 25, 1957, had held a series of meetings in London in May before beginning discussions in Pretoria on June 13. Further documentation concerning the U.S. participation on the committee is ibid., 320.5745X.
  3. Telegram 346 from Pretoria, June 20, reported that the South Africans had rejected any formulation involving the United Nations as the second party, thus eliminating various ideas which the committee had considered, and that South African Foreign Minister Eric H. Louw had raised the idea of partition. The committee had concluded that although this idea was impractical, was probably little more than a way for South Africa to buy time, and stretched, if it did not exceed, the committee’s terms of reference, it was “about the maximum that could be extracted from the Union.” (Ibid., 320.5745X/6–1958)
  4. Governor General of Ghana Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke.
  5. Brazilian Ambassador to Cuba Vasco T. Leitao da Cunha.
  6. Telegram 351 from Pretoria, June 23. (Department of State, Central Files, 320.5745X/6–2358)
  7. Dated June 20. (Ibid., 320.5745X/6–2058)
  8. Telegram 402 to Pretoria, June 19, left the question of accepting the invitation to Walmsley’s discretion. (Ibid., 320.5745X/6–1658)