21. Memorandum From Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • U Thant’s Maneuvering for a “Summit Meeting” in New York

It is now perfectly obvious that U Thant is maneuvering for a “big four summit meeting” in New York in connection with the UN’s 25th birthday in late October. The evidence is:

A series of press stories from New York last week quoting an authoritative UN source to the effect that a summit meeting between Nixon and Kosygin was expected in connection with the expected presence of both for the UN birthday celebration.
President Pompidou’s principal assistant told our Chargé in Paris (Tab A)2 that Pompidou had received an invitation from U Thant to attend a “big four ceremony and dinner” in New York in late October. U Thant’s letter to Pompidou indicated that Kosygin and Heath have already accepted and President Nixon would “probably accept”.
A UN official, during the course of a courtesy call today on a State Department official, casually said that U Thant intends to give a dinner for the four Heads of State on Thursday, October 22 (Tab B).3
A telegram in today from Moscow (Tab C) reports that the Soviets “seem to be evincing some interest in a possible summit meeting … in New York” in October.4

I am not aware of any invitation from U Thant to our President for this occasion, and I assume none has been received. If that is correct, I also assume that U Thant is trying to mousetrap us. It appears that he has invited the other three to break bread with our President and plans to come to us only after he has their acceptances to present us with a fait accompli which would be difficult to avoid.

Another aspect of this that deserves some thought: the UN official who told us about the dinner characterized it as a dinner for “the four principal Security Council member states”. The interesting thing about that formula is not who it includes, but who it includes out. In other [Page 38]words, the UN Secretary General proposes to give a dinner for the “principal Security Council member states”, leaving out China which is, of course, the only other permanent member of the Security Council. It looks to me as if U Thant is trying to use us in his continuing efforts to downgrade Taiwan’s UN status.

As I see it, U Thant is being too clever by half. I do not know how you or the President would feel about a big four dinner in New York. However we feel about it, though, I assume we would prefer to make up our own minds rather than being gradually encircled. We can confirm my belief that U Thant is busily spinning a web around us by ascertaining from Heath and Kosygin whether they have in fact been invited to a big four dinner in New York. I believe we should do so forthwith, and if my suspicions are correct, ensure our own freedom of action by persuading Pompidou and Health to “defer acceptance of U Thant’s invitation for the time being”.

Hal Sonnenfeldt has seen the memo and has “no objection.”5


That you authorize us to inquire of Heath and Kosygin whether they have, in fact, received and accepted an invitation from U Thant to a big four dinner in New York.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 298, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IV. Secret; Nodis. Sent for action.
  2. Telegram 10995 from Paris, August 18; attached but not printed.
  3. Telegram 136473 to USUN, October 21; attached but not printed.
  4. Telegram 4653 from Moscow, August 18; attached but not printed.
  5. Wright added this sentence by hand.
  6. Kissinger initialed the approve option and wrote below it: “Yes, if we can do delicately. But not in way that suggests we are angling for Kosygin visit.”