284. Letter From the Chairman of the Board of the Population Council (Rockefeller) to Secretary of State Rusk 1

Dear Dean:

My understanding is that a principal reason why President Johnson did not feel he could join in endorsing our World Leaders’ Statement on Population was that he felt the group which had agreed to participate was not representative enough. With this thought in mind and recognizing that the Statement would obviously carry more weight if it should be signed by the leaders of some of the great countries of the West,2 we have now approached the heads of governments of the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Liberia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Rwanda
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Thailand
  • Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain

This new group is based partly on the list of sponsors of the United Nations resolution on population which was adopted by the General Assembly on December 17, 1966 and partly on the basis of the impact that the country and its chief would have on world opinion. I wanted to send you this information for the record.3

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It was good to see you the other day4 and I am pleased indeed that you now feel that the Presidential Commission idea has merit. Through Messrs. Gardner and Cater an approach will shortly be made to the President for an appointment with me sometime towards the end of this month.

With warmest best wishes as always, I am

Sincerely,

John
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, SOC 13. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 279.
  3. In a March 10 memorandum, Claxton told the Secretary that Rockefeller’s goal was to get a “sufficiently long list, including one or more European countries, to open the way for President Johnson to sign.” Claxton also confirmed that Cater would be willing to approach the President again if, for example, Prime Minister Wilson and “one or two others” would sign. (Memorandum from Claxton to the Secretary, March 10; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, SOC 13)
  4. Secretary Rusk last met with Rockefeller at 12:10 p.m. on February 7. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Books)