396. Notes of Meeting1


The President called on Acting Secretary Ball for introductory remarks and Ambassador Goldberg for a fuller presentation.

General Assembly.

Both Ball and Goldberg noted that the General Assembly is a recommending, not a decision-making body. It is useful as a forum and a safety valve. Seventy foreign ministers will assemble in New York, and this provides an opportunity for the broadest high-level consultations.

Security Council.

Secretary Ball reported his conversation with Foreign Secretary Brown in which he told the British we would not use the veto on an African race issue.2 Brown said he would resign before acquiescing in Britain doing so (Ball added that it could even come to that). Goldberg said we have never had to use the veto, but we could do so perfectly legitimately if our vital interests were at stake. Goldberg described his efforts to upgrade the caliber of Latin American UN representatives, particularly those on the Security Council.

Secretary General.

Ambassador Goldberg explained why we continue to favor U Thant as Secretary General. He noted that the probable alternative would be an Afghan, whose country lies on the Soviet border, or an African, who would be subject to intense pressure from the African Bloc.


Ambassador Goldberg outlined probable Soviet plans for Vietnam debate.


Ambassador Goldberg praised sense of responsibility of African and Asian Commonwealth members and Wilson’s handling of the [Page 863] issue. Goldberg expressed concern that the Africans might not have the patience to wait out the proposed 90-day cooling-off period, and described the mounting emotional pressures.

Outer Space.

Ambassador Goldberg referred to the Soviet push to get most-favored-nation rights in tracking stations. He described his consultations with countries which might be involved and asserted that the Soviet demand is totally unacceptable.

He described how he had offered the Russians a chance to have joint tracking stations in the Soviet Union and the U.S. The Russians would not agree.

He said there were two interpretations of the Russian demand: (1) they have decided they are not prepared to make an outer space agreement at this stage of the Vietnam war; or (2) they want to spring their own initiative at a later time in the General Assembly, claiming credit for the agreement for prestige purposes. Ambassador Goldberg said prestige should not be the overriding consideration, but he was protecting our prestige to the extent of putting proposals on record, and insuring that they would have to be surfaced along with the Soviets’.

Other Items.

Ambassador Goldberg touched briefly on general disarmament questions, Chinese representation, Korea, peace-keeping, etc. The President asked Secretary McNamara if he had any comments, which he didn’t, and the President closed the meeting.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings File. No classification marking. Drafted by Nathaniel Davis. The President met with the National Security Council on September 15 from 11:19 to 11:55 a.m. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary)
  2. No other record of this conversation was found.