395. Intelligence Information Special Report1



  • United Nations


  • 12 September 1966


  • Secretary General U Thant’s Willingness to Retain Office; Procedures for Draft and Re-election U Thant Considers Acceptable


A Source who is intimately familiar with the subject matter, who conveyed this information to a representative of this Agency, whom he knew as such, with the hope and [Page 861] expectation that it would reach the highest United States Government officials and would assist them in their approach to the problem. There is no indication that Secretary General U Thant intended that this information be passed to us. Our experience with the Source, however, leads us to believe that it is essentially accurate.

United Nations Secretary General U Thant is prepared to continue in office, but it is vital to him that his expression of willingness to do so come as a result of appropriate representations by the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly. He is neither accepting nor laying down any conditions to his continuing in office. At the same time, it must be perfectly clear that he is reacting to pressure from no nation or group of nations but to the persuasion of the international community as a whole as expressed in the United Nations General Assembly. Further, U Thant is willing to accept the office for the full term, realizing that a shorter term would quickly render him a “lame duck.” However, if such outstanding issues as Vietnam, peace-keeping and finances were to be resolved, and an acceptable successor were at hand, he might leave before the expiration of his term.
A suitable timetable and procedure would be: (1) an interim statement by the Security Council reaffirming its faith in the Secretary General but requiring no reply from him; (2) a statement by Amintore Fanfani, President of the 20th United Nations General Assembly, at the opening session of the 21st General Assembly scheduled for 20 September 1966, in which he would emphasize that the Secretary General’s continuance in office will not resolve the important issues and that it remains the responsibility of the General Assembly to dedicate itself to their solution. An arrangement along these lines is already being worked out with Fanfani; (3) an exchange of letters between the Security Council and the Secretary General about mid-October, in which the Council’s letter would stress the responsibilities of the international community and the Secretary General would announce his availability; (4) disclosure of this exchange to the General Assembly on October 24, United Nations Day; (5) re-election of the Secretary General on November 3.
The Secretary General is desperately anxious that his availability be a closely guarded secret since advance knowledge could cause various nations, and specifically the Soviet Union, to pose conditions. Similarly, to safeguard the universality and impartiality of his position, there should be the least possible evident participation of the major powers in the steps leading to his decision. The Afro-Asians should “carry the ball.” The Secretary General wants nothing to happen, or to be said, that could make his decisions and actions seem to be in any way a response to any pressure other than that of the whole international community acting through the General Assembly in the interests of mankind. As far as the major powers are concerned, including the United States, the watchword should be: “Easy does it.”
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 4. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem; No Dissem Abroad, Background Use Only. Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency.