19. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • Your Attendance at the UN General Assembly Session

I believe it would be useful for you to attend some portion of the UN General Assembly session this fall. By doing so, you would demonstrate our support for the UN during its 25th Anniversary year. You would also be able to see a relatively large number of Chiefs of State and Heads of Government in New York, if you wished, thereby minimizing the claims on your time from such leaders. A working group, chaired by a member of my staff and including White House members, is considering alternative approaches for your possible attendance and your meetings with foreign leaders. At this point, I want to outline what we now know about the plans for the General Assembly session and to describe some of the possibilities for your attendance.

Dates for Your Possible Attendance

If you attend the session, the best time would be during the week preceding the formal termination of the commemorative period on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24. Although there would be certain advantages to your attendance during the General Debate in mid-September—a major speech would be appropriate during these substantive discussions—the commemorative period would offer a better opportunity to meet and entertain foreign leaders and thus would head off individual requests for meetings in Washington. Our current information indicates that many more foreign leaders will be coming in October than for the General Debate. Additionally, the focus of this year’s session will be on the commemorative period and there will be greater public exposure given to it.

Arrangements for the Commemorative Celebration

Although plans for the commemorative celebration are not yet firm, about a week up to and including Friday, October 23 will probably be devoted to speeches by visiting leaders. Our delegation has put in a claim for the second spot on Friday afternoon (following Haile Se-lassie) but this could probably be switched to the morning hours, if [Page 34] you desire. We have made no commitment as to who might speak. If you attend, you might also wish to offer a dinner Friday evening for Chiefs of State and Heads of Government. The present plans for Saturday, October 24 consist of speeches by the Secretary General and the President of the General Assembly, a musical offering and a ceremony during which a Declaration will be signed by those present. A problem could arise if the Declaration agreed upon turns out to be inappropriate for your signature, but there are no present indications that it will.

Your Meetings with Foreign Leaders

A list of those leaders expected to attend as of August 3 is enclosed.2 Upwards of 40 leaders will probably attend, most of them during the late October commemorative period. We have considered various ways to handle your meetings with Chiefs of State and Heads of Government attending the UNGA session. None of these is completely satisfactory, and all depend on the amount of time you will be able to spend in New York. We will want to minimize demands on your time, while avoiding, to the extent possible, bruised feelings on the part of foreign leaders with whom you will not be able to meet individually. The principal alternatives are the following:

If you attend Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24, you could have major bilateral meetings with a limited number of leaders of special importance (such as Heath, Pompidou, Trudeau, Sato, Golda Meir, should they attend, in addition to calls on the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary General) on Friday morning and afternoon. You could deliver your speech either Friday morning or afternoon and give a dinner that evening for all Chiefs of State and Heads of Government. Saturday morning you could attend the commemorative ceremony and depart in the afternoon.
Alternatively, in addition to the major bilateral meetings, you might wish to have brief meetings with a number of leaders—in effect courtesy calls lasting from five to fifteen minutes. This would, however, make your schedule quite tight if you attend only Friday and part of Saturday. You could still deliver your speech, offer a dinner and attend the commemorative ceremony.
A third possibility is to schedule no bilateral meetings in New York, only the delivery of your address and the dinner on Friday, and the Saturday ceremony.
If you were able to devote more time than Friday and Saturday, the most desirable plan would be to have both major bilateral meetings [Page 35] and a larger number of brief meetings in New York in addition to the speech, dinner, and the Saturday ceremony.

In the coming weeks we will be receiving more information about the foreign leaders who will attend the UNGA session. When that is available, I will make specific recommendations regarding your attendance at the UN. A key factor will of course be the level of Soviet attendance and whether it will appear desirable for you to have a meeting with Kosygin if he should attend.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV. Confidential. At the top of the memorandum are the handwritten initials “HK”.
  2. The attached list of heads of state and government who were expected to attend the 25th UN General Assembly is not printed.