390. Text of Telegram From the Representative to the United Nations (Goldberg) to President Johnson 1

For the President from Ambassador Goldberg (USUN 383).

Secretary General Re-election

In a lengthy conversation with the Secretary General on several subjects today, I asked him specifically, pursuant to the Secretary’s request, whether he could further enlighten me about his intentions to stand for re-election as Secretary General.

The Secretary General stated he was definitely of the mind that he would not stand for re-election for various reasons assigned to me in our previous conversations and reported by me in earlier telegrams. The Secretary General further stated he would make this decision known by letter to members of the Security Council shortly following his return from South America, scheduled for later this month. This would mean probably during the first part of September.

I told the Secretary General that undoubtedly there would be a general feeling at the U.N. that he should be drafted, notwithstanding his personal disinclination to run.

The Secretary General indicated he would resist a draft and would urge in the strongest possible terms that the Security Council proceed with its search for an acceptable candidate. He again, as he had once [Page 849] before, indicated his belief that no available African or Asian would be found acceptable and that the choice ought to come from a neutral European country, such as Finland, or from Latin America. He spoke in enthusiastic terms about Ambassador Jakobson of Finland, saying he had a high regard for him as a person and as a diplomat. The Secretary General hastened to add this was purely a personal reaction to Jakobson and the Secretary General was not advancing his candidacy.

Comment: It is my impression, reinforced by each visit on this subject, that the Secretary General is becoming more firm in his resolve not to stand for re-election. This does not mean, however, he would not submit to a draft for a relatively short term if no other suitable candidate were found. It is still Ralph Bunche’s view, repeated to me in a visit I made to Bunche this morning at the hospital where he is convalescing from his recent accident, that the Secretary General would, however reluctantly, agree to a draft for a limited term.

Finally, the Secretary General went out of his way to say to me that stories which have appeared in the public press assigning reasons for his reluctance to stand, for example, to our attitude concerning Vietnam, Soviet criticism of his role in peacekeeping, the financial situation of the U.N., Soviet pressure on the Secretariat for additional posts, etc., are stories not based upon any statements authorized by him. Today he emphasized to me personal and family considerations which he said have led him to this conclusion not to run plus his conviction that any Secretary General expends himself physically and by way of influence in a single five-year term.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 4. Secret; Nodis. The copy printed here was retyped in the White House for the President.