357. Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State for President Kennedy0


  • United States Position on Angola in the United Nations General Assembly

A draft resolution on Angola, sponsored by a group of forty-two Afro-Asians, was introduced in the General Assembly on January 23 (text attached as Tab A).1 It will probably come to a vote early next week. The draft goes somewhat beyond earlier General Assembly resolutions on Angola, but is essentially moderate in that it neither condemns Portugal nor suggests sanctions. To this extent it represents a victory for the more reasonable members of the Afro-Asian group. However, there are several elements in the resolution which we would prefer to see revised.

In view of the overwhelming support for the draft, our ability to influence the text is limited, and we are confining our efforts to seeking elimination or modification of paragraphs 6 and 7. Details on the changes we are requesting are contained in the attached instruction which has been transmitted to USUN (Tab B).2

We have also weighed carefully whether the United States should vote affirmatively on the resolution even if our minimal changes are not accepted. There are a number of important factors involved. We have to take into account that the moderates among the Afro-Asians have sought to keep the resolution moderate with a view to getting our affirmative vote. We need to encourage them to continue such efforts in the future. We also believe it is important that we maintain what has come to be regarded as a significant forward movement by your Administration on colonial questions. A key factor is our relations with Portugal. While an affirmative vote by the United States would come as no surprise to the Portuguese, it is clear that the substance of the resolution goes beyond the position which we informed the Portuguese we were adopting in the [Page 556] United Nations. It is not possible to assess with precision the extent of the adverse effects of an affirmative vote on the various facets of our relations with Portugal, specifically: the retention of our Azores base rights, Portuguese participation in NATO, and Portuguese membership in the United Nations. On balance, our best judgment inclines toward the view that Portugal will not make our affirmative vote an immediately decisive factor of retaliation on the Azores question, though the cumulative effect of all of our votes on the Angola question, will undoubtedly be taken fully into account by the Portuguese at such time as US-Portuguese negotiations are begun. This point has been discussed informally with Bill Bundy (Defense Department) who shares a similar assessment.

Governor Stevenson favors an affirmative vote on the resolution. There is no doubt that an abstention on the resolution would be widely regarded as a retreat from the position adopted by your Administration last spring.

In light of the foregoing considerations, I have sent out instructions to Ambassador Stevenson which authorizes an affirmative vote on the resolution as a whole, even if our minimal changes are not accepted. In addition, Ambassador Stevenson would make an interpretive statement regarding the resolution which would put on record our reservations regarding certain provisions in the draft.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Portugal, General, 12/1/61-1/31/62. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the source text. An attached transmittal note from Battle to Kaysen reads: “As agreed in your conversation with Mr. Ball, attached is the proposed Department of State position on the Angola Resolution.” A handwritten notation on the note reads: “cleared cable 1/26/62. 6:30 pm”; see footnote 2 below.
  2. Not attached to the source text. For text of Resolution 1742 (XVI), “The Situation in Angola,” which was adopted by the General Assembly on January 30 by a vote of 99 (including the United States) to 2 with 1 abstention, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962 pp. 949-950.
  3. Not attached to the source text. Presumably reference is to telegram 1959 to USUN, January 26. (Department of State, Central Files, 753N.00/1-2662)