15. Memorandum From Winston Lord of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Your February 26 Luncheon with Under Secretary Richardson: United Nations

I strongly recommend that you take up the subject of the United Nations and preparations for the observance of its 25th Anniversary with Under Secretary Richardson at this week’s regular Thursday lunch.

Several Anniversary proposals involving Presidential commitments have just converged, and it would be useful to sort out your thinking and that of Richardson and Rogers in order to advise the President. (These matters are discussed below.) In addition, I think you should express White House interest that we develop a coherent U.S. approach to the United Nations this year and mark the Anniversary with significant American initiatives. Finally, you could discuss the nature of the Presidential Commission that the President has just approved in principle (Tab A)2 and urged that State move quickly on its establishment.

The major questions for early Presidential decision involve possible speeches/appearances and meetings with Secretary General U Thant.

Possible Presidential Speeches. I assume that, as I urged in my memorandum to you concerning the Presidential Commission, the President is no longer considering an early statement on the UN, the Commission being his only initiative at this time. There are now two prospective forums for a major UN speech:

  • Mid-September New York. Secretary Rogers plans to speak to the President personally about the importance of his going to New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 25th session which will include many visiting heads of state in September and October.
  • Late June San Francisco. We have also gotten advance notice from Hugh Sloan (Tab B)3 that the President will be invited to go to San [Page 26]Francisco on Friday, June 26 to speak at ceremonies connected with the United Nations’ founding there. That would be a very appealing ceremonial gesture by the President, and he may wish to do it for a variety of reasons. However, it should not preempt the much more important September address to the General Assembly. Major substantive proposals should be reserved for that occasion and indeed will not be ready until then. (We envisage the Commission’s making its recommendations by July 30.)

Meetings with Secretary General U Thant . Secretary Rogers has recommended that the President decline an invitation by U Thant to have lunch with him in New York on June 29 (Tab C).

In addition, Congressman Bradford Morse, Chairman of the Members of Congress for Peace through Law, has just written the President on behalf of 73 of his colleagues urging that the Secretary General be invited to pay a State Visit to Washington during the week of June 22 just prior to the San Francisco commemoration. They also suggest that U Thant address a joint session of the Congress. (The letter is at Tab D.) Paralleling this initiative, I have just received an informal feeler from a member of the United Nations office here in Washington that U Thant be invited by the President to Washington, although he indicated that this need not be a State Visit.

My own view is that the President could invite U Thant to lunch in late June on the latter’s way to San Francisco with the two purposes being: (1) to underline U.S. support of the United Nations and to mark its 25th Anniversary; and (2) for the President to receive the Secretary General’s views on the future of the UN in order to help develop a United States position in conjunction with the Presidential Commission recommendations which he would be receiving the following month. Other events, such as a Congressional reception, could also be arranged. This would be a very helpful gesture by the President and would assist him in shaping American initiatives for the General Assembly. It would at the same time avoid the time consumption and political problems of a State Visit and an address to Congress.

Possible Scenario

In sum, without having a feel for the President’s or your thoughts on these questions, I am recommending the following scenario:

  • —Launch the Presidential Commission sometime in March.
  • —Invite U Thant for an official visit and luncheon, but not a State Visit, on his way to San Francisco the week of June 22.
  • —Either a strictly ceremonial visit by the President at the San Francisco convocation June 26 or the sending of a Presidential message.
  • —Decline U Thant’s lunch invitation in New York June 29.
  • —A major Presidential speech with American initiatives at the September opening of the General Assembly, based on his Commission’s and State’s mid-summer recommendations and his June conversation with U Thant.

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I hope that you can discuss these matters with Richardson and then give me guidance on whether and how to prepare a memorandum for the President. Alternatively, you may wish to take these subjects up verbally with the President, perhaps in conjunction with Secretary Rogers.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 297, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. III. Confidential. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed. This February 24 memorandum from Kissinger to Secretary Rogers noted that the President had approved in principle Rogers’ recommendation that he appoint a Presidential Commission for the observance of the UN 25th Anniversary.
  3. Tabs B, C, and D were not attached.
  4. A follow-up memorandum from Lord to Kissinger, dated March 12, sought confirmation that he and Richardson had agreed on President Nixon’s participation in UN 25th Anniversary commemorative activities. Kissinger initialed that he had done so, but added at the bottom: “Not really—minimum Pres participation. He will not go to S. Francisco.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 297, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. III)