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

4998. SYG Succession: Ramphal Availability. Ref: USUN 4657.2

Min State Ramphal called on Bush Dec 13 to discuss SYG succession. Ramphal was accompanied by Perm Rep Talbot and Guyana Amb to Venezuela Anne Jardim. LA adviser present.
Bush referred to meetings with Talbot, said Ramphal enjoyed high regard of some influential Americans and had impressive qualifications and asked if initial contacts by Talbot had led GOG and Ramphal to consider more formal candidacy. Ramphal said he wished explain background leading to decision by GOG to make him available for SYG position. Ramphal said suggestion initially made to him eighteen months ago by former Irish FonMin Sean McBride who also suggested possibility to PriMin Burnham. McBride and Burnham recommended that Ramphal availability be made known at some appropriate time close to end of Thant’s term. When repeated declarations of intentions to retire made Thant’s intentions clear, Burnham authorized quiet approaches concerning Ramphal’s availability, beginning with calls on SC perm members. PriMin Burnham had also contacted a cross section of heads of state and government mainly in nonaligned world. All of these approaches resulted in varying degrees of encouragement for a Ramphal candidacy.
On basis foregoing reactions Ramphal was urged to come to New York and make himself known to SC members and others. He has already met with PRC (Huang Hua) who reiterated well-known view they would not be party to secret deal by big powers but wished to discuss SYG succession with entire SC membership and others. Ramphal said Huang Hua seemed interested though noncommittal re his aspirations. Of SC perm members, French have been most reserved to date. Ramphal approaching SC non-perms, notably LAs, Africans and Italians, and he is going to approach such nonaligneds as Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Yugoslavia and India to make them all aware he is available.
Ramphal asked Bush for US views on succession. Bush said we had been convinced for months Thant wished retire and had been urging others to give matter serious consideration. Bush said US was open-minded concerning various candidates and “known candidates” among whom we believed there were several excellent potential SYGs. Bush said US did not share views of Sovs and French that Thant should be pressed to stay on on interim basis and did not believe Thant wished do so.
Ramphal raised Herrera candidacy by saying he had gained impression in speaking to PRC that they “liked” Herrera and were to some extent likely be influenced by Chilean attitude. Huang Hua had hinted that Chilean endorsement of his name would be a factor in PRC’s deciding to support Ramphal. Ramphal had sounded out Chileans re Herrera and thought they were still thinking of him as a serious candidate. Guyanese assured Bush they were not going to try to obtain LA group endorsement, saying they were well aware selection of SYG could not be object of group rivalries.
At conclusion of meeting Bush urged Guyanese to remain in contact with him and told Ramphal he would henceforth assume latter’s name was among those SC should seriously consider in reaching its decision. Ramphal said he was not intending to make his position publicly known but he recognized that as his contacts with dels multiply chances of the press beginning to speculate on his intentions were becoming greater. Bush said he did not think such press speculation, which was inevitable, would be in any way harmful.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. IX. Confidential; Exdis. Repeated to Georgetown.
  2. Document 235.