298. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

100. Western Group mtg re Sov memo on UN Peacekeeping.2

Twenty members Western Group met today to discuss USSR memo on UN peacekeeping. About half of members had copies (we confidentially made copies available to others), but only Japan and Sweden indicated their govts had received copies directly from USSR.

Stevenson stated USSR memo, while apparently in response US–UK initiative, reflected USSR’s own proposals and did not comment on suggestions made by US and UK on Mar 6. He said US is attempting discover whether USSR desire hold fruitful negotiations, but memo appears be only reiteration standard Sov position on exclusive rights SC to establish and finance all peacekeeping operations. USSR want make every phase of operations subject to veto which appears contrary to membership desire retain reserve powers GA. USSR proposal would also inhibit SYG executive role and did not mention resolving of arrears situation.

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Amb Dean (UK) said UK giving memo careful study, but “troika” implications clear in suggestion that “socialist” countries supply troops and participate in command of operations. He saw memo as careful restatement USSR views on Chap 7 plus introduction further restriction that SC Perm Reps should not participate in operations.

Plimpton added that memo goes back to Sov views expressed in consultations on Art 433 which foundered in the 40’s.

Reps attending indicated they had no instructions, but in general found little in USSR note on plus side; raised numerous questions about what USSR really means in substance—especially on what operations USSR considers could be carried out under Chap 7 and Art 43 concept; expressed considerable skepticism about motivation of USSR on timing of making note widely available; and considered in some detail best ways of countering USSR offensive by educating UN membership quickly so appropriate action by OAU and during SYG trip to Moscow not be aborted. Another Western Group mtg scheduled for Wed, July 15.

Amb Loridan (Belgium) believed USSR memo talking only of Chap 7 operation and would exclude such operations as Congo, Cyprus, and UNEF. He questioned whether Congo is an operation of aggressor under Chap 7 in USSR view.

Plimpton supplied that, when US had queried Fedorenko about Kashmir-type operations, reply had been SC had exclusive jurisdiction in such cases. Loridan said memo led him to conclusion it addressed only to Chap 7 situation, especially aggression, and that this might exclude action by SC under Chap 6. Stevenson agreed matter should be further explored with USSR.

Amb Cremin (Ireland) saw gap in memo between peacekeeping operations like Cyprus which Sovs had not opposed and peace “enforcing” operations under Chap 7. Dean said Sovs see Cyprus as past operation and memo addresses itself to future. Barton (Canada) averred USSR position was Cyprus should be left to Cypriots and UN should not take role unless Turks invade. If Turks invaded, Cyprus then it becomes Chap 7 operation.

Stevenson at this point expressed personal concern how SC could draft and deal with res as complicated as USSR prescriptions at bottom page 3 of note.

Amb de Beus (Netherlands) felt press version of memo gave more favorable first impression than official document, and perhaps Tokyo leak planned. In analysis he attempted find something new and mentioned: [Page 643] (1) tone of memo more favorable to peacekeeping than Izvestyia article;4 (2) contributions of troops of Perm SC Members were excluded; (3) USSR recognition that peacekeeping operations might be authorized within UN framework; (4) members should make troops available to UN; and (5) costs should in first instance be borne by aggressor, but USSR prepared share some costs. Negative aspects of memo which de Beus felt membership unable accept were: (1) exclusive jurisdiction of SC (on this Netherlands be firmly opposed); (2) peacekeeping operations envisaged only under Chap 7, not Congo, Cyprus, or New Guinea; (3) exclusion of SC Perm Reps, so no Korea or Cyprus; (4) inclusion of Communist forces and command in all operations; (5) reduction SYG role “to stooge” of SC and Military Staff Comite; and (6) failure mention financial crisis and arrears. He concluded by querying whether main elements open up chance for negotiations and expressed view that on whole paper not hopeful.

Stevenson interjected additional negatives: USSR planning to substitute permanent UN force for earmarking of national units and difficulty of negotiating treaties with individual members. Pointed out that flexible call-up more fruitful approach to problem.

Matsui (Japan) said he knew of no particular reason Tokyo selected for first Sov presentation. When Sov Chargé delivered memo on Jul 6 he gave only short explanation and indicated all members would receive it. Japan since learned memo given Laos and Sweden same day. Matsui said GOJ had received text in Japanese, which probably reason for slight difference between press report and document received by US and UK. Japan was studying memo and had reached no conclusion on its value.

Amb Vinci (Italy) expressed personal view that all chances of negotiation should be explored. Saw timing of memo presentation as attempt influence Africans before Cairo mtg and indicate Sov position before SYG visit Moscow. Vinci felt US and UK should continue explorations with Sovs, present opinions to SYG before he leaves, and utilize Working Group 21 as means of expressing Western views and drawing more backing for our position.

Stevenson said we hope see SYG before he leaves and summarize for him preliminary views Western Group indicating that dels presently without instructions. Principal danger is that Sov memo calculated stimulate long discussions and divert attention from more realistic proposals and obscure Art 19 before Nov 10. Stevenson agreed Vinci analysis Sov tactic re timing and reflected personal opinion that memo was obviously in part for propaganda purposes.

Amb Tabor (Denmark) [Page 644] saw little progress on face of memo, but felt it best not be too negative since we all want arrive at some plan for future. To counter Sov propaganda, US might consider making public statement before Cairo mtg (which should not concentrate on Art 19) but point out Sov proposal would take away GA powers. Tabor inquired whether SC Perm Reps exclusion included logistic support for operations. Stevenson thought it applied only to troops.

Amb Corner (New Zealand) saw memo as another attempt of Sovs to plug up leak in what they had thought was water-tight control over activities of organizations as established in 1945. ASAF’s with whom he had spoken (mentioned UAR, India, Nigeria) had been able see through memo, and West need not react too negatively in public.

Patricio (Portugal) said he had not received text, but would pass it on to his govt. His first reaction was that it was composed of generalities to attract “certain majorities.”

Stevenson expressed agreement with Tabor suggestion that public statement might be desirable, but questioned advisability of it coming from US and UK. Facts of situation were that it problem of entire membership and we don’t want situation appear as bilateral confrontation or extension of cold war. Tabor agreed, but saw timing problem in reaching Western consensus and having it cleared with govts for prompt issuance. Vinci suggested that each member make statement to own press.

Dean pointed out US–UK must have mtg with USSR first. Stevenson suggested it important get around corridors and make views clear to USSR. Important Western Group members make comments to LDC’s. Corner read excellent statement made in New Zealand parliament. (Copies pouched Jackson/IO.)

Amb Hay (Australia) concerned if all Westerns publicly comment, this likely enhance importance of memo and upgrade it to status of document on which to base negotiations. Hay inquired of Chief Adebo’s reactions to memo. Plimpton reviewed appropriate info contained USUN 87.

Amb Waldheim (Austria) suggested that another mtg be held next week after guidance received from Western govts. Mtg tentatively scheduled Jul 15, 10:30 a.m., US Mission.

Tine (France) urged (and all concurred) advisable not mention these mtgs to press.

Stevenson stressed there much missionary work be done with other dels, and asked that Western Group urge countries make views known to Sovs.

Comment: Corner comment at end mtg quite accurately characterized Western reaction: He stated seeking positive aspects USSR proposal like looking for needle in haystack.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Administrative Histories, Department of State During the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Vol. II, Part 5. Confidential. Another copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 27–4 UN.
  2. For text, see UN doc. A/5721.
  3. The article that specified that members undertake to provide armed forces, assistance, and facilities to maintain or restore international peace and security.
  4. Apparently the June 7 article in Izvestia “Concerning a Vicious Undertaking,” translated in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, July 1, 1964, p. 15.