386. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Consulate in Geneva, Switzerland1

122. For Goldberg from Finger. Re Geneva query on Waldheim’s qualifications, mission personnel who know him best are probably you and Tacher, who in Geneva. Amb Yost whom we have consulted feels Waldheim, if elected with broad support, would be “safe” SYG in sense that he could be trusted resist direct or indirect pressures on his office or authority or actions contrary to US interests. On other hand, does not believe Waldheim has qualities of strong leadership which would be desirable in getting UN out of doldrums on peacekeeping problems. Waldheim’s cautious nature and likely inability mobilize ASAFs effectively even if originally supported by them may, in Yost’s view, limit his capacity for leading UN toward more positive development its potential.

[Page 841]

We share this assessment Waldheim but believe it should be weighed against assessment other candidates which could appear in wake any negative decision by SYG. Waldheim’s qualities may be greater or less depending on who he compared with. Baker2 and I believe he is as capable and as friendly to US as any other name which has cropped up as electable possibility thus far. Waldheim was described by Emb Vienna as “unusually frank and open, thoughtful, dignified, informal and a pleasure to work with.” They also reported he was helpful in promoting US interests. My own dealings with him would support that assessment. Further, he is very knowledgeable about UN, having been an observer at 9th GA session and participated in 10th through 14th GA sessions prior to his coming here as Australian rep in 1964. As for qualities of strong leadership and cautious nature, I believe Waldheim would not compare unfavorably with Thant. Important factor would be possible American successor to Bunche and role he might play vis-à-vis Waldheim. Fully share line taken by you with Waldheim which, while demonstrating appropriate interest and sympathy, keeps our hands free in event SYG decides against continuing and in meantime keeps US in wholly correct position vis-à-vis SYG.

Of poss interest is statement to MisOff July 14 by Lessiowski ( UN Sect) who just back from Moscow where he participated for 4 days in June in preparations for SYG visit which then envisaged for early July. He claimed Sov Govt supports continuation of SYG and putting no qualifications or reservations on it. He personally believes SYG will decide continue for three years but does not claim any inside info and admittedly he is influenced by his own hopes of being appointed UN Rep at D–2 level in Moscow in Dec.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 4. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to the Department.
  2. John Baker of USUN.