10. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U.S. Assurance of Contribution toward UN Headquarters Building

We understand that a problem has arisen with regard to the recommendation made in the Secretary’s Memorandum for the President of November 11, 1969 and that a determination that there is an overriding foreign policy interest is necessary in order to make the case that the requested contribution should be considered as falling within the 25% exemption in the halt in federal construction.

We fully appreciate the difficulty we could expect in the Congress in presenting a request for a $20 million appropriation for UN headquarters expansion in the 1971 budget, even though no expenditure of funds would be required at least for 18 months. Nevertheless, Ambassador Yost and we do believe there are overriding foreign policy considerations involved, as stated in the Memorandum for the President, and we therefore urge that this request be considered as falling within the area of the 25% exemption. Without repeating the arguments set out in the Memorandum for the President, there is a serious risk that our failure to act now will lead to abandonment of any further consolidation of New York Headquarters and accelerate the movement of elements of the UN to Europe, which has already begun. Such action would result in a further decline in our influence on the operations of the UN and a loss in the balance of payments and other economic benefits we derive from its location in New York.

[Page 15]

We have tried to think of a possible fallback position, but we cannot think of one which would not pose the risk of an unfavorable decision in the United Nations General Assembly. The only possibility that comes to mind is that we might advise the Secretary-General privately of our decision to seek Congressional authorization and appropriation of a $20 million grant in the Fiscal Year 1971 budget, but refrain from making a public statement at this time. We strongly doubt that this would provide him an adequate basis for putting a proposal to the General Assembly which would head off the risk of an unfavorable General Assembly action. We are unable, therefore, to recommend that alternative.

Accordingly, we strongly recommend that, as a matter of overriding foreign policy interest, the U.S. Delegation be authorized to make the statement proposed in the Memorandum for the President. Time has run out in New York and we must give the Secretary-General our decision as soon as possible Friday, the 21st.2

Robert L. Brown 3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 297, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. III. Confidential.
  2. Authorization to inform UN officials of U.S. support for the construction of additional UN Headquarters facilities was transmitted to USUN in telegram 196348, November 21. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, UN 10–4)
  3. Brown signed for Eliot above Eliot’s typed signature.