159. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for Congressional Relations (Timmons)1

SUBJECT

  • Congressional Action on Administration’s UN Requests

I am passing along to you a copy of a memorandum to the President from Ambassador Yost in New York, who expresses concern over the fate of two Administration bills in Congress in support of the UN.2 One is the requested $100 million appropriation for the UN Development Program (the UN’s principal organ for multilateral economic aid) and the second is the requested $20 million authorization and appropriation for the US share of financing the expansion of the UN headquarters in New York. Ambassador Yost asks for White House assistance, including the President’s personal intervention, to obtain early favorable action on both these measures.

I agree with Ambassador Yost that these measures are important. Since this is the UN’s 25th anniversary year, and since the President will likely want to participate in celebrations that will be going on in New York this September, this would be an inopportune time for the US to show signs of flagging in its support for the UN. Also, U Thant will be the President’s guest at a dinner at the White House on July 10 in honor of the 25th anniversary of the UN Charter, and it might be helpful if there were at least some indication of the President’s continued concern for the UN by then.

The UNDP appropriation request is the major item in one account (International Organizations and Programs) of the Foreign Assistance Appropriation Act. The House cut the total foreign aid request by $537 million and this particular account by more than $37 million. This means that the U.S. contribution to UNDP could be little more than $62 million. Compared to last year’s contribution of $86 million, this reduction would threaten the credibility of the President’s announced commitment to increased multilateralism by appearing to indicate a serious decline in U.S. support for UN development efforts. Thus it is important that some action be taken, but this must be considered in [Page 295]the broader context of strategy on the foreign aid appropriation bill as a whole. If an expression of Presidential concern (including mention of the UNDP) seems appropriate, it probably would be most effective at the time of the Senate–House conference, since the McGee appropriations subcommittee will likely restore the full amount for the UNDP. Conceivably, the amount could be raised further. For now, I believe that the forthcoming foreign aid message, which will probably include special mention of UNDP, should be enough.

On the UN headquarters bill, the only action so far has been a favorable report on the authorization from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This bill is now taking on some importance internationally: There are strong pressures within the UN to shift major portions of the UN Secretariat to Geneva, and there is danger that the absence of an assured US contribution by the time of the General Assembly session this autumn will undermine support within the UN for expansion in New York. Ambassador Yost believes that such movement away from New York would seriously reduce US influence over UN operations. Even if the plan is not abandoned, further delay in making our contribution means escalating construction costs.

You may know that the President was skeptical last fall about the desirability of taking any risks for the headquarters bill. In the meantime, however, he has cited it in his Foreign Policy Report as an example of America’s support of the UN. In view of the Thant dinner and the UN anniversary activities, the President does have a stake in showing his continuing interest in the bill.

These items may not be of the highest priority on your agenda, but perhaps this information will be helpful to you.

I am informing Ambassador Yost that I have passed his memorandum on to you.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV. Confidential. A June 19 memorandum from Lord and Rodman to Kissinger indicates that they drafted the memorandum to Timmons as well as the response to Yost. (Ibid.)
  2. Yost’s June 12 memorandum to the President is attached but not printed.
  3. Kissinger’s response to Yost is dated June 25. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV)