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


  • Conversation with Max Jakobson, Candidate to Succeed U Thant as UN Secretary General

I lunched yesterday with Max Jakobson and Cabot Lodge. As you know, Jakobson is the Finnish Representative to the United Nations and an active candidate to succeed U Thant. I thought you would be interested in the following items that came out of the conversation:

Jakobson says that at the recent Scandinavian Foreign Ministers Conference there was unanimous agreement to give his candidacy vigorous support. Significantly, the Swedes went along without any reservations whatever. This appears to mean that the Soviet effort to float Gunnar Jarring’s candidacy has come to naught.
Jakobson says he considers it positive that Peking favors his candidacy. He said that in the last month or so Peking officials have [Page 398]expressed to three foreign ambassadors (French, Canadian, and one other) the expectation that Jakobson would be acceptable. Jakobson said this squared with earlier indications from Peking. He added, however, that Peking consistently takes the position that until such time as it occupies a seat in the United Nations no commitment or firm expression of Chinese policy is possible. According to Jakobson, the Chinese have also given clear indications that they do not want U Thant’s term extended.
Jakobson is convinced, and so is Finnish President Kekkonen, that the Soviets will not take their opposition to his candidacy to the point of a veto. Kekkonen discussed the Jakobson candidacy with Kosygin and Brezhnev earlier this year, and in August with the new Soviet Ambassador to Finland. The Finns attach importance to the fact that on neither occasion did the Soviets seize the clear opportunity to express overt, much less inflexible, opposition to Jakobson. Jakobson believes that the Soviets will continue to try to defeat his candidacy, but that if it comes to the point where only a veto will prevent his success, the Soviets will acquiesce. Jakobson believes that the Soviet opposition to him is based more upon bilateral considerations, and general Soviet concern for Finland as a model for Eastern European states seeking a more independent position, than upon personal considerations.

Jakobson thinks that the way of advancing his candidacy is to try to get one or more non-permanent members of the Security Council to precipitate consideration of the succession to U Thant. In that connection he thinks it would not be premature for us discreetly to encourage Belgium, Japan, Italy, and Argentina to think along those lines. Jakobson believes that when the Big Four get around to meeting on the succession question, it would be best if France were the country to put forward his name. He says that possibility is being actively pursued with the French Government.

Jakobson believes that if Communist China enters the UN before the succession matter is taken up, it will help his candidacy. He is not certain of the effect upon his candidacy of a U.S. victory on Chirep, but is worried that this might encourage an extension of U Thant’s term on the argument that the succession matter should not be settled until the PRC has taken its seat. Incidentally, Jakobson professes to be completely certain that Peking will refuse to come to the UN while Taipei is represented there.


I liked Jakobson. He is against us on the Chirep issue, and does not try to soften that fact. He is obviously a man of strength and conviction and could, I believe, be counted upon to give some much needed purposeful direction to the UN if he succeeds U Thant.

[Page 399]

I do, however, continue to be concerned at the failure of the international community to come to grips with the problem of selecting a successor for U Thant. I very much fear that unless we can get some momentum into this, the end result will be an extension for U Thant, whether or not he really wants it. I will be talking to George Bush and Sam DePalma about this.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 301, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VII. Confidential. Sent for information. Kissinger’s handwritten note in the margin reads: “Marshall—Let’s do what is possible to get rid of Thant. HK”
  2. A meeting on September 9 between Jakobson and Bush is described in telegram 2627 from USUN, September 10. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3)