183. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

2722. Subj: 25 Percent Financial Contribution.

Amb Bush delivered to SYG Waldheim Aug 2 courtesy copy of aide-mémoire on 25 percent issue which Dept has planned to deliver in capitals to all UN members within next few days.
Amb Bush reviewed full range of arguments in support of USG position, stressing that as SYG knew our concern is long-standing one which should not be regarded by anyone as related in any way to subjects discussed between SYG and Bush during previous week.
Inter alia Bush emphasized: fact issue dated from inception of UN; Senator Vandenberg had taken position no member state should pay more than 25 percent at first session of UNGA; Trygve Lie had also declared before Fifth Committee in 1946 that it in best interest of UN not to be too dependent on any one state; that total USG contributions to UN system was considerably in excess of 31.52 percent; that US case rested on philosophy of concern for welfare of UN rather than lowered evaluation of worth of UN; that our negotiating approach was intended to avoid causing any other member to be obliged to contribute more than present rate of assessment; and finally US comprehension of problems our position presented for UNSYG, notwithstanding which we hoped SYG would see his way clear to give support to our position.
Waldheim replied that he appreciated opportunity to hear our views. “I am not happy of course that US is cutting down.” Waldheim said he was particularly pleased that we planned to negotiate the matter, as UN membership had been disturbed by possibility that US might unilaterally reduce its contribution.
Revealing some comprehension of status of consideration this question by US Congress, Waldheim said “Real question is date.” If, for example, US contribution reduced retroactively, it would be disastrous for UN.
Bush replied that we very much desired to handle matter in manner that would avoid creating undue financial problems. If 27th GA puts through resolution establishing new ceiling at 25 percent, we would hope UN Comite for Contributions would be able next spring to effect reduction in US assessment. Waldheim nodded his satisfaction.
Waldheim said his most immediate concern was with timing of delivery of US aide-mémoire to UN membership. He hoped we would wait at least until next week, the longer the better. He felt it most important that no one be allowed to interpret our circulation of this note as sequel to last week’s spat between USG and UNSYG. Bush assured him that US would resist tie-in to “last week” in every way it could. He undertook to urge Washington to delay delivery of aide-mémoire at least until next week but pointed out that US faces difficult campaign to sell its position and must initiate that campaign fairly soon.
Comment: Amb Bush believes Waldheim’s point is valid one and should be respected to extent possible. He also hopes that instructions for delivery of aide-mémoire can include explanation to US Embassies on this sensitive point, and arm our representatives to refute any implication that we motivated by pique at Waldheim.2
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 10–4. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. The Department replied on August 4 that it concurred with Bush’s recommendation, and that the U.S. aide-mémoire to UN member states would not be distributed until the week of August 14. (Telegram 141601, August 4; ibid.) On August 16 the Department sent the aide-mémoire to most overseas posts with instructions to present it to the governments of all UN members. (Airgram A–8349, August 16; ibid., UN 3 GA)