339. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

2354. Tibet. Gyalo Thondup called on Goldberg and Congressman O’Hara Nov. 29. Thondup said Dalai Lama is anxious keep Tibetan issue alive and to forefront of world opinion; sees no better way accomplish this than through GA debate, though he recognizes GA debates and reses unlikely produce concrete results. Thondup said Tibetans are, however, in somewhat of quandary as to how they best proceed this year. On one hand, Tibetans own convictions re status of Tibet, plus desire give hope and encouragement to people within Tibet, lead them to prefer GA debate which would end with res recognizing political aspects of Tibetan problem through references to self-determination and independence.

On other hand, Tibetans well aware of attitude of GOI which, for two years, has assured Tibetans it willing give full and active support to res emphasizing human rights aspects of Tibetan problem. However, GOI has been very hesitant, and is more so than ever at present moment, to support res touching on political side of Tibetan problem. Would, therefore, appreciate US advice.

Goldberg assured Thondup (and asked that this be conveyed to Dalai Lama) that US Govt and people deeply concerned re plight of Tibetan [Page 735] people, recognize Tibetan problem has both human rights and political aspects, and prepared support appropriate res touching on both. Nevertheless, must recognize that Afro-Asian attitude has been disappointing this year in many respects (e.g. ChiRep vote and inscription of Tibetan item); Africans are unusually preoccupied with problems of own continent; and many AAs seem anxious avoid taking stand on issues which entail degree of confrontation with Communist China.

In planning strategy, therefore, Goldberg said care must be exercised not to seek res which would fail to carry or carry with only weak vote. Attitude of Asian states with sizeable Buddhist populations of central importance. This particularly true of India, partly because of its positions in AA world, partly because it is closest to and has most intimate knowledge of Tibetan problem. It is unlikely that at present time many AAs willing go much further on Tibetan res than Indians prepared to lead.

Thondup said US support and help with other delegations will be essential for any res. Goldberg said US, of course, would render appropriate help but reiterated view that essential thing for Tibetans is to get active support of Indians and other Asians. MisOff added that US help, if too obvious, would tend damage rather than improve prospects for good vote because it would lend credence to those who contend Tibetan item is essentially US-inspired “cold-war” item.2

Thondup then presented us with text of draft res which, he said, was drafted by Tibetans in New Delhi and approved by GOI (text which Thondup has not yet discussed with Phils and other co-sponsors, sent septel). Thondup expressed concern that res might be interpreted as retreat from 1961 res. Goldberg said it did not appear to be retreat since it reaffirmed both previous reses in preamble, and spoke of “denial of the fundamental freedom” which Tibetans have always enjoyed in operative section.

After leaving Goldberg, Thondup told MisOff he was assured in New Delhi that GOI would instruct its UN del to give “full and active support” to this res, including speech in debate and promoting support among other dels. Thondup said Indian Mission confirmed receipt of such instructions earlier in day.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 19 TIBET/UN. Confidential. Repeated to New Delhi, Manila, Managua, and San Salvador.
  2. Telegram 1412 to USUN, December 6, stated that while the Department had been concerned that “too active” lobbying on the Tibet item might be disadvantageous, additional effort might be desirable to overcome “apparent apathy enveloping item in GA.” It instructed USUN to broaden its approaches to Western European and African delegations and to include such delegations as Jordan and Iran. (Ibid.)