355. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

2927. In recent days British have approached us both in New York and Washington.2 They propose to launch a campaign for voluntary contributions to help unlock UN financial problem. Apparently they intend to offer an unconditional ten million dollars and would like to round up contributions from European and Commonwealth countries that may (with UK contribution) amount to 25 million dollars or so.

While timing British move still unclear, British may move early this week prior to their Commonwealth meeting later in week. Some Commonwealth members may prefer that British float this idea first in Commonwealth meeting so that initiative can be by group of Commonwealth countries.

Canadians have been wanting to take similar initiative and have in addition said they could no longer support invoking of Article 19 against current delinquents.

Dept now considering possible moves on Article 19 issue as such, and hopes Canadian and British Governments will not publicly break that line without further consultation.

We see no objection to, and some advantages in, initiatives by British, Canadians, and others to offer voluntary contributions restoring UN to solvency. Addresses are authorized convey this word to UK and Canadian Governments.

However, those governments and others approached by them should realize we have not yet decided on circumstances that would make it possible for us to make comparable offer, and there should be no implication that they are serving as bellwethers for US contribution to a solvency fund. Indeed, there are grave difficulties in asking Congress for funds to meet crisis produced by refusal of other members to pay.

In discussing matter with British and Canadians, you should make clear that we see little prospect of US voluntary contribution that can be applied in any way to past peacekeeping expenses. Any US contributions [Page 770] for peacekeeping would have to consist mostly of further bond purchases and/or provision of support for current and future peacekeeping operations of UN in conjunction with other UN members, such as in strengthening UN’s working capital fund.

Sense this cable conveyed by Harlan Cleveland to British Ambassador Sunday.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, United Nations, Article 19, Vol. 4. Confidential; Priority. Drafted on June 13 and approved by Cleveland, cleared in substance by Plimpton, EUR, and in draft by Rusk. Also sent to London and Ottawa.
  2. The Department of State reported on the British approach in telegram 7833 to London, June 11. (Ibid.)
  3. June 13.