405. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

2793. Continuation of U Thant as SYG. Series of three meetings (Nov 28 a.m. with nonperm members SC; Nov 28 p.m. with full SC: Nov 29 at first with full SC and then with USSR, France, UK, Uruguay) culminated in presentation of following statement to SYG 6 p.m. Nov 29:

“The members of SC have been meeting informally. They wish you to know that, after taking all considerations into account, they unanimously wish you to continue for another term in office. They believe this would meet the best interests of the organization.

“Pending SC action in a formal sense, which it would plan to take on Friday of this week members of Council hope you would postpone any public statement in reference to this matter.”

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Goldberg read statement orally, and SYG made no substantive reply other than to say he would postpone press statement scheduled for Nov 30. To SYG’s question what would be occurring in interim between now and Friday, Goldberg replied that there would be consultations among SC members and with him. After meeting with SYG, UN press officer announced that U Thant would not make statement of future plans until later this week, and specifically, not tomorrow.

General summary of meetings as follows:


Goldberg several times mentioned his reasons for convocation of Council: In meeting with SYG as US rep and not as Council pres, he had derived impression that U Thant amenable to remaining in job provided matter handled in proper way. Goldberg suggested that SC draft statement noting Council had considered whole situation concerning office of SYG and had arrived at unanimous decision to invite U Thant to remain. Statement would be informally checked with SYG before being formally presented to him in mtg of Council. Since SYG had not mentioned serving for less than full term, and since full term was the norm, Council invitation would be for full term. Statement suggested by Goldberg as follows:

“On Oct 28, 1966, Council unanimously adopted a res (Res 227)2 recommending that appointment of U Thant as SYG of UN be extended until end of 21st session of GA. On Nov 1 GA unanimously so extended his term in Res 2147 (XXI).3

“Under terms of these two reses extension was to be accompanied by further consideration of the appointment of the SYG. In their consequent considerations, every member of Council has been conscious of SYG’s statement of Sept 1, 1966 expressing his decision ‘not to offer myself for a second term as SYG and to leave SC unfettered in its recommendation to GA with regard to next SYG’.4

“Members of Council have accordingly examined situation with this statement especially in mind. They have attached great importance to consideration that organization should continue to be served by a SYG who has capacity to evoke cooperation from all members and confidence of their peoples. They have taken into account need of ensuring that interests and purposes of organization are furthered and strengthened by this recommendation of Council. They have weighed SYG’s wish that members examine possibility of reaching agreement on another nominee against advantages to organization of continuity and stability under current conditions.

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SC, meeting in private session, and after giving consideration to all these pertinent considerations, has decided to recommend as most conducive to interests and purposes of organization appointment of U Thant for another term in office as SYG of UN”.

Goldberg’s position met with several lines of objection. French, with Sov support, professed desire keep U Thant in office while arguing vociferously for weakest possible Council statement to SYG. Their initial move was for draft simply noting that SYG scheduled to issue statement Nov 30, asking him to postpone the statement, and informing him that Council would be formally considering SYG’s reappointment on Dec 2. (Adebo (Nigeria) read text to this effect in meeting Nov 29, Sovs and French had text before meeting began.) Argument made in favor of such move was that SYG must be headed off before he committed himself in Nov 30 statement, that Council must for the moment concentrate upon agreeing to this, that procedure for choosing SYG fairly complicated, involving not only SC but GA, and that attempt to formulate full position for presentation to SYG would involve waste of valuable time. To Goldberg’s statement that Adebo draft too negative, that it regarded U Thant as candidate, Fedorenko said man of SYG’s caliber would understand and be cooperative. View that initial Council statement should be warmer than as proposed by Adebo received support from Corner (NZ) and Caradon (UK). Gradually, agreement reached to include language re unanimous support for SYG in statement.
Second aim of French and Sovs was to ensure that SYG gave no reply to Council while US was SC pres. Seydoux and Fedorenko fastidious to see that no hint of a question relating to SYG’s availability was included in statement made to SYG. Asked specifically for deletion of language suggested by Goldberg noting Council desire to comply with what SYG had outlined in Sept as requirements for his continued service. Adamantly opposed Caradon suggestions of asking for SYG’s response as quickly as possible or of asking SYG how Council should proceed. Seydoux even reluctant include in statement language indicating Council intention consult further with SYG. Argument was that, since terms of invitation to SYG not yet agreed upon, it was premature to ask about U Thant availability; moreover, U Thant not in position to alter Council draft and Council should be very careful not to embarrass him. When Goldberg argued strongly that SYG should be told how Council planned to proceed, even if nothing asked of him, it was agreed Goldberg would indicate in general terms Council desire consult with SYG before formal action. Seydoux insisted that formal Council action be set not earlier than Thursday, and preferably Friday.5
Several reps concerned that dignity of Council not being taken sufficiently into account. Kironde (Uganda), El-Farra (Jordan), Tarabanov (Bulgaria) among those initially believing that SYG’s availability should be ascertained before any statement drafted. But all agreed time was of the essence, and by time of meeting Nov 29 this line of argument maintained only by El-Farra. Kironde willing accept Goldberg’s belief that SYG available. Goldberg said he thought SYG would react negatively to preliminary approach by Council to rely on his impression, but said that presentation to SYG on draft Council invitation, along with request for U Thant’s approval, would ensure that no formal move of Council would be rebuffed. Maintained that he too concerned with dignity of Council.
Brief argument ensued over whether presentation to SYG should be oral or written. When Berro (Uruguay) claimed written approach would be more dignified, Fedorenko said U Thant would understand in either case, Seydoux worried that draft would be made public (while US still Council pres), Ruda (Argentina) noted that submitting draft for approval very far away from Council’s usual duties. Consensus finally obtained for oral presentation of written statement.
Discussion of who should represent Council to SYG ended in consensus choice of four major powers plus next Council pres (Uruguay.) These five reps remained Nov 29 after others left and drafted the statement that was used.
Same group of five plans convene tomorrow to work on draft invitation to SYG.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 5. Secret; Limdis.
  2. For text, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1966, p. 204.
  3. For text, see ibid., pp. 204–205.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 392.
  5. December 1 and 2.