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

219420. From the Secretary for Ambassador Bush. Subj: Successor to U Thant. Ref: (A) USUN 4688, (B) USUN 4713, (C) USUN 4743.2

Your general approach to the Five-Power meeting on Dec 6 as per ref C is approved. You should attempt to treat this as preliminary exchange of views on qualifications we are interested in and of information we have on various candidates, so that we have better feel of positions of other perm members before we go further. This may be difficult in view of idea of lists suggested as per refs A and B, but you might say that any formal procedure at this stage risks depriving the Five of fruitful interchange of views that should benefit the selection process. We would prefer not to proceed with elimination approach as we fear it would result in most of strongest candidates being eliminated early.
We agree with you that Jakobson’s candidacy is in trouble but we are not yet certain that Sovs will declare themselves to be directly against him. We wish to prevent Soviets from simply hiding behind supposed Arab positions and to compel them either to assume public onus for having blackballed him or to back away. Until they do come out directly against him you should continue to seek to keep him in forefront without directly endorsing him.
Agree with your proposed strategy in para 3 of ref C re U Thant.3 We should continue to point out why in our view he is simply not available. By treating him as a non-candidate, you should try to remove justification for Soviet blackballing the man they believe to be our candidate.
As for desirable qualifications of the next SYG, you might say we think he should
Have personal capacity to handle political requirements of position;
Possess administrative and leadership qualities needed to assert control over secretariat activities, personnel and UN financial problem;
Have considerable UN experience;
Be chosen on basis personal capabilities and contributions, not on basis regional candidacies or rotation. (We interpret this last point to mean that neither a European nor an Asian should be excluded from consideration because those continents have furnished previous SYG’s);
Be elected for full term in order to begin dealing effectively with crisis of confidence afflicting UN.
When names of candidates are discussed, you can say we have heard of six serious candidacies: Amerasinghe, Herrera, Jakobson, Makonnen, Sadruddin Aga Khan and Waldheim. Masmoudi, Terence, Djermakoye, Jarring, Strong, and more recently Ramphal, have also been referred to, but we do not regard them as candidates. Of the candidates we understand the situation to be:
Amerasinghe. Good UN experience as Ceylonese Permanent Rep and doing a good job as chairman of the Seabeds Committee. However, he seems to have attracted little support in Asia or elsewhere and does not seem to be a leading candidate.
Herrera. As we have already indicated directly to Chile, we could not support his candidacy, though we have good regard for him personally and had been instrumental in his election to IDB. We believe possibility exists that some outstanding Latin American candidate may yet emerge.
Jakobson. The first and most active candidate. Highly respected in the UN. From a neutral European country and therefore presumably politically acceptable. Has a good combination of UN experience and administrative qualities. Rumored to be objected to by some Arabs but none have told us so and we are confident there is no agreed Arab view. Probably has wider personal support than any other candidate.
Makonnen. Experienced in UN, having been on SC during 1967–8; also twice Cabinet Minister in Ethiopia. Personally well liked. Seems to have attracted little support in Africa or elsewhere.
Sadruddin Aga Khan. Not an active candidate, but clearly interested. We believe he has done an excellent job as High Commissionor for Refugees. He has attractive personal qualities. His general acceptability and support are not known.
Waldheim. Experienced as Permanent Rep to UN twice, as Austrian Foreign Minister, and almost President of Austria. From a neutral European country and therefore presumably politically acceptable. His name does not appear to have aroused either discernable support or opposition.
Of others mentioned, we have following info: It is not clear what support Masmoudi, Terence and Djermakoye have, but their names have not generated any appreciable interest. Strong has many attractive qualities, but we have no reason to believe he is really a candidate and he has little UN political experience. We have reason to believe Jarring is not interested, even for short period. Ramphal has just recently been mentioned and we have no views.
Foregoing might be used at the meeting to elicit views of others and to encourage discussion of candidacies on the basis of their relative merits. When you come to Jakobson you should of course try to avoid saying anything that could make the Soviets lock themselves into a negative position. In this connection the line you took with Malik as per para 4 ref A was exactly right. If burden can be placed on Soviets to prove that Arab “group” (rather than one group of some Arabs) opposes Jakobson, the argument will be on a plane where Soviets would have to assume the onus themselves.
Following are preliminary comments, for your own information, on contingency if Jakobson is knocked out of the race and will have to try to steer discussions in favor of one or two other candidates.
Agree with para 4 A ref C that Sadruddin could make relatively appealing candidate from our point of view although he is untried in political position. Believe he may be regarded as Western-oriented and as such unlikely to attract Soviet and Chinese support. Indians may also present problem, though we do not know.
Waldheim has no opponents. This is his greatest asset as potential fallback, but from our point of view also his greatest liability as SYG since he is unlikely to take actions that would make him enemies. However we could live with him and he would be better than any Afro-Asians now apparent with possible exception of Sadruddin.
We think Mexicans probably would not make Carillo Flores available, though we would be willing to make a try if situation makes this desirable. We would not like Garcia Robles and believe Cuevas would not be strong SYG.
Agree that Hambro’s nationality militates against him, although he would be high on our list if there were any possibility.
As for Guyer, while we recognize he has done a good job on East Pakistan relief we have impression that he is not cool under pressure and doubt whether he is experienced enough for SYG position. Would appreciate your pouching us personality profile that would allow more reasoned assessment of his strong and weak points.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IX. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Herz and Pedersen, cleared by Robert H. Miller, and approved by Secretary Rogers.
  2. Telegram 4688 is Document 236. Telegram 4713 from USUN described a meeting among Bush, Crowe, and Kosciusko-Morizet in which the latter was asked to arrange an informal meeting of representatives of the Permanent Members in order to limit the field of candidates. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3) In telegram 4743 from USUN, Bush informed the Department that Kosciusko-Morizet had offered to host the Five-Power meeting at this residence on December 6 at 10 a.m. (Ibid.)
  3. This paragraph expressed the hope that the meeting would rule out any prospect of an interim appointment for U Thant.