239. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4895. SYG.

Summary. At second meeting of the Five Dec 9 progress was made when U Thant and Herrera eliminated as candidates. Malik pressed hard to have Five approach U Thant to enquire, if permanent members asked him to stay on for interim period, would he accept. UK and US declined join such an appeal on basis U Thant’s clear position and state of his health. PRC rep said based on wide consultations his del believed number of dels were not in agreement U Thant should be asked to accept interim appointment. Soviet and French Reps said they would report foregoing to their govts. PRC said it would be in position support Herrera and asked about US position. Bush confirmed US had informed Chile it not in position support Herrera. Bush urged other dels to state views on specific names when asked as he had done on Herrera. Five agreed they would refuse all public comment on meetings other than to confirm that consultations were continuing. Next meeting 9:15 AM Dec 13. End summary.
Participants and procedural arrangements same as at first meeting (USUN 4812).2 First 45 minutes taken up with long complaint by Malik over squib in New York Times reporting that the Five had held their first meeting to discuss successor to U Thant. Malik said his del favored continuation of U Thant’s term as did overwhelming majority of UN members. Therefore for US to inform press that Five were discussing successor was distortion of Soviet position similar to leaks which had occurred during Four Power talks on ME.
Bush denied US had violated agreement reached at previous meeting. Five had agreed to announce that their first meeting on SYG item had taken place and had committed themselves not to reveal what took place in meeting. Eleven months ago U Thant said he would not stay on and US thought meeting was to agree on new SYG.
Malik then went on at length how U Thant had sent up trial balloon in January but UK and US hate him so they launched campaign to compel him to reiterate his intention to retire. If Five came to conclusion U Thant should continue for six to twelve months he was certain SYG would agree.
Crowe (UK) spoke next and denied UK and US hate U Thant. He repeated UK position on U Thant given at previous meeting and said since U Thant doesn’t want to stay on Five should not ask him to do so. Crowe then handed around informal list of candidates (Amerasinghe, Cuevas Cancino, Djermakoye, Herrera, Jakobson, Jarring, Makonnen, Manescu, Rahnema, Ramphal, Garcia Robles, Sadruddin, Terence, Waldheim). UK thought there were a number of capable candidates and that Jakobson was well qualified. Crowe proposed Five go through names and give views as to which ones any participant did not like or did not regard as a serious candidate.
Bush said he had heard name of Guyer which could be added to list on understanding this was not by way of US sponsorship.
Malik said only two names before group were U Thant and Jakobson. He supported Kosciusko-Morizet’s suggestion at previous meeting on requesting U Thant to remain if Anglo-Saxons would agree. Huang Hua asked if Kosciusko-Morizet had officially proposed U Thant at December 6 meeting. Kosciusko-Morizet replied he had not. Soviets he said, thought U Thant candidature possible and best solution might be to ask him. France was not opposed to a U Thant candidacy.
Huang Hua then reiterated PRC’s position on proper role of the Five vis-à-vis the general membership using almost verbatim the same language he used at the first meeting. During consultations with others, PRC had not committed itself to any candidate whatsoever. PRC had heard US was opposed to Herrera and of course question of extension of U Thant had come up. In opinion PRC, Five should be extremely cautious whether in taking steps in favor of U Thant or against Herrera, otherwise they might have regrets.
Huang Hua summed up PRC views as follows: (A) Quite a few dels were not in agreement with renewal or prolongation of U Thant’s mandate because he had held post for ten years and impression would be created successor could not be agreed upon; (B) some favor a European candidate. Since post twice held by Europeans, it might be advisable successor come neither from Europe nor Asia. However, this was not simple geographic question. Herrera was an example. If this candidate qualified, PRC would take geography into consideration.
Bush noted Malik at previous meeting had said one candidate opposed by a regional group. Which candidate did he mean? Malik replied he had mentioned no name.
Crowe agreed with Huang Hua’s remarks on U Thant. He urged Five discuss candidates with view eliminating unacceptable or non-serious candidates. Otherwise, SC meeting should be called and voting should begin.
Kosciusko-Morizet said there two possibilities. Five could approach U Thant as Malik suggested. Second possibility would be to [Page 429] accept fact some participants took position in no case could they accept U Thant extension.
Malik said if Five could not reach consensus as in past, then there should be alternative procedure. USSR believed overwhelming majority wanted U Thant to remain. Should this be put to vote in GA? Should Five wash their hands of problem? Even if GA passed res each participant could veto in SC. Among Africans and Asians no one defended geographic approach. Perhaps only way would be to have vote in GA.
Huang Hua said PRC did not put geographic considerations first and foremost. Qualities of candidate had to be taken into account. This did not prevent Five from taking account views of some members who favored geographic concept. Huang Hua said if Malik made official proposal to have GA vote he would consider it. In meantime, five permanent members should consult other delegations and in this way consensus of Five would better satisfy general membership.
Huang Hua noted time was limited but Five should try to reach desired consensus. If one were to extend U Thant, this would disappoint others who waiting for solution. In event Five did not reach agreement soon, question of special GA would arise. Special GA not worthwhile even for economic reasons. As for Herrera, even though US had expressed different views, could group consider them definite? Could Herrera still be taken into consideration? Many attach importance to this candidacy and PRC would be able to support idea of Herrera’s candidacy.
Kosciusko-Morizet said all agreed it desirable to avoid resumed GA. On geographic question, there did not seem to be major differences.SYG should be person best qualified. On procedure, Five should continue consultations in order to reach a consensus which would be backed by SC and GA.
Crowe agreed on need for consensus. Perhaps names of U Thant, Jakobson, and Herrera should be sent to SC where secret ballots would be cast in closed session. Trygve Lie had been extended by GA in 1950 but this not good procedure.
Bush then gave US criteria for SYG in para 4 State 219420.3 We too opposed resumed GA. If Five deadlock, next move should be to SC and not GA. Bush asked if he replied to Huang Hua’s question on Herrera would others be prepared to answer questions about candidates.
Malik said without clarification of positions of other four on his proposal for approach to U Thant to see if he would be willing to extend for six months, Five could not progress. Perhaps Kosciusko-Morizet could ask SYG. Of course, if US, UK and PRC reject proposal he would advise USSR.
Crowe and Bush said they were not prepared to have U Thant or anyone else serve for six months.
Kosciusko-Morizet said one point had been settled. On question whether Five could agree continuation of U Thant was excluded, UK and US replied “yes” and PRC replied many dels considered extension not advisable.
Malik said three resolutely opposed to U Thant. How should Five now proceed in view of fact at least 90 members were in favor of U Thant extending.
Kosciusko-Morizet said France did not have instructions on any one candidate and was very open. He would report today’s development and maybe later he could be more precise. Next time perhaps those candidates who stood no real chance could be eliminated from the list without revealing who eliminated them. Five could then consider names remaining.
Crowe supported this idea and said perhaps group should forward two or three names to SC.
Malik recalled PRC statement it not committed to any candidate. Did the PRC support Herrera?
Huang Hua replied PRC in favor of Herrera candidacy and presented it to consideration of other four.
Bush said he would reply to earlier question and he hoped next time others would also answer questions on candidates. Before PRC del arrived, US informed Chile privately US not able support Herrera’s candidacy. This came out in Latin American press and we confirmed it. Malik said only thing wrong was that decision appeared in the press.
Five then agreed they would limit comment to press to “consultations are going on.” Five agreed to respond with no comment to all enquiries about frequency, place of meetings and to all request for information about discussions themselves.
Next meeting 9:15 A.M. December 13.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IX. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Document 238.
  3. Document 237.