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

1654. Subj: Successor to U Thant.

Finnish PermRep Jakobson, who has just returned from Helsinki, called on Bush June 17 to bring him up to date on his campaign to succeed U Thant.
Arabs. Jakobson reported on results special emissary sent to Maghreb capitals. Reaction had been uniformly favorable and all three govts had dissociated themselves from action of Arab group reported to have taken place in NY. All three denied their reps had taken part in Arab group meeting on basis of authorization and indicated they [Page 392]would not join in future efforts of this kind since they considered them to be inimical to Arab interests. There was no Arab position on successor to Thant and there not likely to be one. Algeria had been most forthcoming and had indicated GOA might be prepared support Jakobson. Reactions similar to those of Maghreb countries had also come from Finnish Embassies in Jordan and Lebanon. Emissary sent to OAU meeting would stop in Cairo but best Finns could hope for is UAR neutrality. (This is in line with our assessment USUN 1530.)2
Africa. Max Jakobson reported President Kekkonen had sent letters to Kaunda, Nyeyere and Senghor. Response had been sympathetic and GOF confident OAU would not adopt appeal to U Thant to accept another term.
LA’s. Special Finn emissary now making rounds of certain LA capitals and Jakobson will report results when known.
Basically, Jakobson said, picture pretty much same as when he and Bush last talked (USUN 1256).3 Idea that U Thant wants to be drafted persists even among “disinterested” dels. In response to question, Jakobson said it would be helpful if US were to emphasize importance of change. Although many dels believed change was necessary, they also believed if Thant wanted another term he could have it. Bush said rather than stressing US wants change, we should perhaps adopt posture there will be change and this will help stimulate serious consideration of other candidates. Jakobson agreed.
Soviets. Jakobson said Sovs posture was it too early to take position on various candidates. This was legitimate answer since in a sense it was too early. In his view, Sov first preference was U Thant who they hoped would be drafted. When time for decision came, Jakobson believed Sovs would support him. Kekkonen had raised question with Sovs in February and if they had objections they could have said so.
French. Jakobson said French position similar to Sovs. While they would prefer another term for U Thant they could never oppose a qualified Finnish candidate. On the whole, Jakobson thought French were passive as were British.
Bush briefed Jakobson on his May 24 talk with Thant (USUN 1378)4 and said SYG understood US felt free to consider other candidates.
Comment: Unfortunately USUN 1626 crossed State 108833 as reported USUN 1626,5 we are attracted to names on working level UK list as well as order of preference with exception of Guyer.

We concur with Dept’s strategy para 7 State 108833. Our object should be to work closely with UK to encourage others to think seriously about choosing new SYG. It would help if US and UK were now to be more outspoken in their conviction U Thant’s decision final and we actively considering various possible successors with view to electing successor at 26th GA. Without endorsing any particular candidate, we should seek to create political climate which excludes possible draft of Thant. To this end, believe we should actively work on attractive employment offer to Thant and seek his acceptance prior to 26th GA.

Sovs have recently muted their assertions Jakobson unacceptable to Arabs. We agree Jakobson is current front runner and given Finnish efforts with Arabs latter may ultimately be effectively neutralized. Jakobson still has lot of work to do with Asians, Africans and LA’s. There is big gap between sympathy or non-opposition and declared support. Should latter materialize on meaningful scale, Jakobson stands chance of maneuvering Sovs and French into acquiescence.

For reasons previously reported, we believe both Adam Malik of Indonesia and former Pres Frei of Chile would be outstanding candidates if they would be interested in running. (Assessment of Embassies Djakarta and Santiago would be welcome.)

There have been indications that, in event U Thant not available, Ceylonese PermRep Amerasinghe is second choice of Arabs. Fact that he is Asian, has strong administrative background, and is basically pro-West, yet nominee of left-leaning developing country are assets that make him second strongest current candidate. We must bear in mind that there is considerable resistance beneath surface to another European SYG. Waldheim of Austria is definitely dark horse at this stage. We also concur chances of Makonnen of Ethiopia appear to be nil.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 301, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VII. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to London and Helsinki.
  2. Telegram 1530 from USUN described meetings with members of the Algerian and Lebanese Missions, who were noncommittal toward Jakobson’s candidacy but said that the Arab states preferred either a second term for U Thant or H.S. Amerasinghe’s candidacy. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3)
  3. Dated May 13. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 300, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI)
  4. In telegram 1378 from USUN, May 25, Bush reported that U Thant had assured him that he would not be a candidate for another term, and had said as much on two recent occasions. (Ibid., Box 301, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI)
  5. Telegram 1626 from USUN, June 17, reported on a meeting on June 16 in which U.S. and British Mission officers discussed potential candidates for Secretary-General. (Ibid., Vol. VII) Telegram 108833 to USUN, June 18, proposed that Bush follow up on his informal consultations with his British counterpart about the search for a new Secretary-General. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3)