294. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1
3826. Discussions with Soviets re payment of arrears and new peacekeeping financing arrangements.
Fedorenko (USSR) and members his staff met with Stevenson, Dean (UK), and staff members at USUN today on request Fedorenko.
Fedorenko said he had instructions make oral statement in response to UK-US initiative of March 62 and would like read from English text in order make certain statement fully understood.
Fedorenko said Soviet Government had given consideration to suggestions made by Stevenson March 6. They had paid particular attention to statement President Johnson desired avoid hampering relations between US and USSR on UN financial issue. Similarly, USSR Government had no intention strain relations between two countries and there no basis such strain if both parties proceeded in spirit of mutual cooperation and in conformity with Charter.
Charter laid down procedure for UN action for maintenance peace and security, including financing of UN operations, those of Middle East and Congo in this case. Unfortunately, Fedorenko said US had taken steps which could not be qualified but as complicating situation and aimed at deterioration in relations between US and USSR. Responsible representatives of USG, while giving arbitrary and biased interpretation to Charter provisions, came out with threats to USSR and statement intent to win application Article 19. This action has given impression that US determined facilitate situation which will undermine UN as instrument for safeguarding peace and for creation of [Page 632] peaceful cooperation and compel USSR re-examine attitude re UN activities.
Fedorenko said Soviet position re financing peacekeeping operations in Congo and Middle East and application Article 19 is clearly stated in statement of March 21, 1964,3 and letter to SYG of June 10, 1963.4
Fedorenko then quoted from March 21 statement that USSR shall consider any actions aimed at exploiting UN machinery including application provisions of Article 19 of Charter for ends alien to Charter as actions of those who do not care for UN and who do not take into account prospectives of its break-up of UN as result such actions. If anyone has illusions USSR may reconsider refusal pay expenditures for UN operations in Middle East and Congo and can be forced do so by pressure, USSR can only warn these speculations not only groundless but that, if there any attempt act along these lines, USSR may be obliged reconsider attitude towards UN activities. USSR stresses that attempt make groundless charges against it in connection with its position of principle will be considered as unfriendly act towards USSR.
Fedorenko went on say, if Article 19 on legitimate grounds is to be spoken of at all, this must be done in strict conformity with Charter in conformity with provisions re suspension rights of members. This means application is not automatic but requires two-thirds vote under Article 18(2) as indicated in Soviet statement of June 11, 1963. (Then quoted 18(2).)
Then Fedorenko proceeded make statement which we find most interesting, despite generality of its terms, because it seemed be request for us to make proposals to solve current financial problem. Fedorenko said: As stated in our letter of June 10, Article 19 provides no basis for automatic deprivation of rights of members to vote in GA. If US Government is really interested in finding way to overcome financial difficulties of UN as stated by you, Governor, then such ways should be sought not on basis of methods of cold war where one party is not taking account of position of other but through recognition mutual interests of all parties. In this connection, would like to stress that attention has been given in Moscow to Stevenson’s statement of March 6 that attempt should be made find solution not detrimental to positions of principle of parties. If USG has any concrete proposals based on precisely such approach which is thoroughly appropriate to interests of such case, Soviet Government is prepared to consider such proposals. US memo of March 65 is being studied in Moscow. Even now it can be [Page 633] said that those provisions of proposals contained in that memo which are contrary to Charter cannot be accepted.
Dean stated briefly that USSR in error if it believed any threat to it had been intended by US and UK. Said fact that UK stands on its position re applicability of Article 19 should not be considered such threat. Added that no progress in talks possible if there are threats on either side. Believed our view of principle right but this not question of threat at all.
Fedorenko responded by saying impression had been created and that we should know it was fact Moscow had such impression.
Stevenson said it appeared to him we had arrived at serious and important crisis in life of UN. He regretted Soviet statement not because it was statement of old positions but because it implied that US and UK had consciously created situation threatening undermine possibilities of international cooperation and threatening break up UN. No one else believed this was true and he was concerned that Soviets appeared believe it. US record in support UN did not justify such belief and he wished make it clear he completely resented implications of Soviet statement. Stevenson went on say our approach in March was attempt find solution through consultation to problems posed by different positions of great powers and was attempt see what could reasonably be done to meet Soviet positions. He noted text our memo of March 6 was being restudied but believed that further talks would not be useful if USSR proceeded from assumption we trying destroy UN or threaten USSR. We trying to make UN effective and circumvent conflict on Article 19. He hoped we could proceed on assumption that both sides trying preserve UN and he hoped Soviets would either react to our proposals or put forward any others they had in mind.
Stevenson said Soviet Union knew our position which we consider based soundly on Charter. Since there seemed no point in repeating debates on past positions, he suggested we discuss future arrangements, recognizing that, in our view, it was essential that Soviet indebtedness to UN must be liquidated.
Finally Stevenson said, if Soviets had no new proposals put forward, we were apparently at point where we could only wait for Soviet study and reactions to our memo of March 6.
Fedorenko suggested that perhaps Stevenson had not taken fully into account evaluation in his statement of Stevenson’s suggestion of March 6 on Article 19 that attempt be made find solution to UN financial problem which was not detrimental to positions of principle of both sides. Said USSR had noticed this and taken into consideration his explanation. Then requested three key sentences of statement on “positions of principle”, “concrete proposals”, and Soviet-Government willingness to consider such proposals (above).[Page 634]
Stevenson and Dean responded by saying that U.S. and U.K. had already made proposals and could not understand why any of them had been considered contrary to Charter. Said we had no new proposals now.
Fedorenko simply reread sentence re Soviet position on proposals contrary to Charter. Then said that, if we considered proposals of March 6 serious and constructive, then adequate time must be given USSR for study.
Stevenson then pointed out that six weeks had passed since our approach March 6 and that other members of working group were formulating proposals re peacekeeping financing and that question arose how long could they be excluded from talks re these matters. We had thought desirable see how far U.S. and U.K. could progress with USSR towards some agreement before inviting others participate in talks but delay now made situation difficult. Plimpton emphasized fact that was important for Moscow react to memo of March 6 in reasonably short time because other working group members becoming restive.
Fedorenko said he would report U.S.-U.K. reaction his government immediately. He added, however, that U.S. and U.K. had obligation study and present specific constructive proposals to USSR. When reply was given that proposals had been presented,
Fedorenko asked whether we had any new suggestions. Stevenson and Dean replied in negative. Stevenson pointed out to Fedorenko that we were reasonably satisfied with existing UN procedures and that we had been trying meet some Soviet objections to these. We were prepared give further consideration if Soviets had any suggestions to make. Our proposals had not been worked out in detail and were not final. Soviets should also be aware that our proposals required only changes in rules of procedure and not Charter amendments.
Fedorenko then raised question as to what to say to press about today’s meeting. He said that, of course, he expected we and U.K. would immediately give full account to New York Times and Tribune and question really was what he would say. Stevenson and Dean pointed out that we had informed no one else of today’s meeting and did not intend give any publicity to discussions which had taken place. Fedorenko indicated skepticism.
As Fedorenko left, Stevenson repeated request he had also made earlier request for copy of text of Fedorenko’s statement, and latter said he would consider request.
In subsequent discussion U.S. and U.K. delegations agreed Soviet reply softer than we had expected and that Soviets were asking for our proposals on arrears problem as well as on those for future. If [Page 635] Fedorenko gives us written text his statement, we can examine it closely with this in mind. However, Fedorenko statement as given above virtually verbatim, especially this aspect.
Also agreed with U.K. delegation we would say to other delegations, in response to inquiries only, that U.S. (not U.S. and U.K.) had “been in touch” with Soviets couple of times and Soviets said they still studying our proposals. Nothing to be said to press, and we not to indicate there had been specific meeting at which we had received Soviet reply. Idea is to avoid press interest to maximum extent. Soviet revealed extreme sensitivity re press attention to last meeting, and we believe Department should take care to avoid leaks.6
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Article 19, Vol. 1. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Moscow and London.↩
- See Document 291.↩
- For text, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, 26 (April 15, 1964), p. 18.↩
- UN doc. A/5431.↩
- Summarized in U.S. Participation in the UN, 1964, p. 2.↩
- In telegram 3257 from Moscow, April 24, the Embassy in the Soviet Union commented that “Stripped of its rhetoric and imputation of motives to the US, we believe Fedorenko statement designed to say that: (1) Sovs absolutely inflexible in refusal to pay Congo and ME arrearages and (2) within that limitation, Sovs anxious find accommodation on Art 19 issue and future peacekeeping operations.” (Department of State, S/S-S Exdis/Limdis Telegrams, Reel 40)↩