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

116. When I saw Louw this morning re China situation he quite occupied due to backlog of matters awaiting his attention since his return and necessity leave again for short period tomorrow. However, he wished review Middle East situation (which consisted of mere [Page 731] exchange of such information as we both had about recent developments in Iraq and along Israeli border) and discuss our vote in UN on apartheid.1 On latter he spent half hour reading to me press treatment of our vote in about a dozen leading U. S. newspapers. He accepted the information that I had previously given his staff about our role in moderating the original resolution2 but stated press treatment of our change from “abstention” to “voting for”3 had been very bad indeed, showing large shift in our thinking. He himself guessed that the press treatment was partially accurate and that there had been considerable hardening of our position, partially due at least to our domestic problems on racial issues.

He then went into the familiar arguments of Union’s position, taking exception in factual way to some of the remarks made by Harrison4 as to obligations under the UN Charter, the apparent willingness to violate Article 2, paragraph 7, etc, etc.

I reminded Louw that the resolution obtained, in large part at least by our efforts, contained little more than what we had in past years seen fit to vote for in piecemeal fashion. I thought U. S. press treatment as he had read it to me made too much of point of connection our own domestic problems with our vote in the UN. Nevertheless I supposed in fact there might be some connection. For one thing it could hardly be denied that our problems at home had made more people aware of and think about racial problems than in years of the recent past. Also if we felt compelled to uphold a vital principle considered West in East-West struggle for men’s minds in our own country to extent of much regretted necessity use troops to enforce courts’ decision and integration, we would perhaps be less likely avoid taking a position against segregation and discrimination abroad. However I thought Union should appreciate our desire avoid singling out Union for condemnation and general tone of Harrison’s remarks which showed considerable sympathy and understanding of magnitude of local problem here. Louw said he would try in the next Parliamentary debate to put the brighter side (milder resolution, etc. ) forward, but that I should know there was considerable feeling in Union about U. S. position. He said as far as he was concerned he would have preferred [Page 732] the original Indian resolution with our abstention rather than the modified resolution with our support. When I expressed surprise at this statement he said he wished be very frank. A specific and strong resolution against South Africa voted for by a majority of nations in UN did not matter so much as this was to be expected. What mattered perhaps more than all other votes put together was that of U. S. in view its predominant position of leadership in Western world.

There is no doubt that Louw is quite upset over this matter and it accounts I suppose for Prime Minister’s specific reference to U. S. in his recent speech. (Reference my message from Capetown October 29)5 Am also informed that he has expressed his concern over our position to other members of Diplomatic Corps he has seen since his return here.

Louw stated he wished to balance his discussion with me by expressing his gratitude for the positions we had taken in the Fourth Committee on Southwest Africa and hoped I would relay gratitude of his government to Department. I expressed my appreciation and said I would.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/11–758. Confidential; Priority.
  2. The United States had voted in favor of Resolution 1248 (XIII), which, inter alia, expressed “regret and concern” that the South African Government had not responded to previous U. N. appeals to reconsider governmental policies impairing the right of all racial groups to equal rights and freedoms. It was adopted by the General Assembly on October 30 by a vote of 70 to 5, with 4 abstentions. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1098–1099.
  3. Documentation on this subject is in Department of State, Central File 320.
  4. In previous years, the United States had abstained on resolutions concerning South Africa’s apartheid policies.
  5. The text of the statement made by U. S. Representative George McGregor Harrison in the Special Political Committee of the General Assembly on October 16 is printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1096–1098.
  6. Telegram 12. (Department of State, Central Files, 745A.00/10–2958)