20. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

SUBJECT

  • Your Attendance at the UN General Assembly Session

You have agreed in principle to go to New York for the celebration of the UN’s 25th birthday. Although the list of attendees is not yet complete, it is already evident that New York will have, during the week of October 24, one of the largest gatherings of Heads of State in history. We now expect between 30 and 40. We have a delicate problem of dealing with the sensibilities of so many heads of government and their many requests for personal meetings with you. This memo seeks your tentative approval of a scenario for handling the problem.

We want to avoid the hurt feelings and invidious comparisons that would result from your seeing some of your opposite numbers and having no contact at all with others. We therefore recommend that you host either a Reception or a State Dinner for all Heads of State in New [Page 36]York. This will permit personal contact and a photo of a smiling handshake with even the least of your opposite numbers. It will also be a near-unique occasion, and should get heavy press coverage just prior to the November elections.

Longer substantive meetings will be necessary with the more important Heads of Government. As of now, “probables” in this category include Heath, Haile Selassie, and Sato. Kosygin is a possibility, as is Golda Meir. French attendance is undecided. I think we can hold the number of longer meetings to a maximum of 5 or 6.

In addition to these “principals”, there is another category who will expect and have a claim for at least a brief private meeting with you. Twenty or thirty minutes should suffice. Examples are Souvanna Phouma, Julius Nyerere, Lee Kwan Yew, Yahya, etc. I think we can hold it down to five or six.

To accomplish all this with grace, and without inflicting on yourself an inhuman schedule, you will need about 48 hours in New York. You are already scheduled to be in New York on the evening of October 21 for the Al Smith Dinner. The easiest way of handling this UN-related chore is simply to stay in New York for the next two days, returning to Washington on the morning of Saturday, October 24. In addition to the activities described above, this will permit you to make a speech to the General Assembly on Friday afternoon. We are at work on a philosophical and somewhat inspirational 15-minute draft for this occasion.

There is no need to make specific decisions now on precisely whom you would receive for either the long or short meetings. We can do that best when we have firmer information on who is coming. We will be mindful of the high necessity of protecting your time, and it may be that we will be able to drop part of this schedule at the end.

If you accept the recommendation below, we will keep your decision strictly secret, do all of the planning on a tentative basis, and come back to you for final approval. Tab A is an illustrative schedule. Tab B is a list of the Heads of State who have indicated their plans. Tab C is an information memo to you from Secretary Rogers on this subject.2

Recommendation:

That you agree for planning purposes to proceed to New York on the evening of Wednesday, October 21st and return to Washington on the morning of Saturday, October 24.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV. Confidential. Sent for action. An attached memorandum of transmittal to Kissinger from Marshall Wright is dated August 17. Another attached memorandum from Dwight Chapin to Haig, dated September 9, gives a date of August 25 for the KissingerNixon memorandum. According to the Chapin–Haig memorandum, “The President has approved it only as a start for a general approach to the UN plan— he has not approved either of the two check-off items in the plan specifically. In other words, the President thought it looked okay, but we have no final approval in any way, shape, or form.”
  2. Tabs A, B, and C are attached but not printed.
  3. The approve and disapprove options are neither checked nor initialed.