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

7. Subj: BushWaldheim Conversation Jan 3.

Summary. Bush held wide-ranging one-hour conversation with SYG Waldheim Jan 3. Waldheim indicated his strong interest in early meeting with President, Secretary and Congressional leaders; his determination to be an active SYG and to tackle vigorously fiscal and administrative problems of UN; his willingness to have an American fill Bunche position; his interest in US role in ongoing UN humanitarian effort in East Bengal. End Summary.
Bush (accompanied by Bennett and Newlin) paid courtesy call on SYG Waldheim afternoon Jan 3 which developed, at SYG’s initiative, into wide-ranging substantive discussion which threw considerable light on how Waldheim sees his new job.
Bush began by reiterating US congratulations on Waldheim’s appointment. Visit was essentially courtesy call but he did want SYG [Page 64]to know that US was willing to discuss UN financial problem whenever Waldheim wished. US was ready to participate in multilateral effort to solve problem but Soviets and others also had to do their share.
On another subject, Bush said he believed SYG had already indicated publicly that he expected US to nominate an American to replace Bunche and he could confirm that this was the US position.
Waldheim noted that many articles had appeared in press to effect that he would not be an active SYG. He assured Bush this would not be the case and pointed to his reputation as DirGen of Political Affairs and as FonMin. He was aware that prestige of UN was at low ebb, particularly in US, and that remedial steps must be taken. Bush said USG view of new SYG was as stated by him in GA and to press and that no high ranking US official had taken any other line. Waldheim said he aware of this and was grateful. (It obvious SYG deeply stung over press stories.)
SYG said unfortunate impression had been created that he had been the Soviet candidate and that US was cool toward him. In order to counter this impression he thought it very important to meet with the President, the Secretary and with Congressional leaders ASAP. He was willing to run risk of being criticized for calling on US officials first and he would take the line that it was only natural to call on host country leaders at earliest opportunity. Speaking personally, Bush said that he thought this suggestion made good sense and he would see what could be arranged.
On successor to Bunche, SYG said he had been somewhat surprised when U Thant informed him of impression US willing relinquish Bunche position in favor of Mathews’ slot. He now aware that US interested in filling Bunche post. Guyer had just observed that had he been aware Rolz-Bennett’s job consisted in left overs from the Bunche operation he would not have taken it. Had the US been interested in a switch then Urquhart could have been promoted to Guyer’s deputy. Guyer also questioned whether one of superpowers should ideally have Bunche job.
Bush said that we thought highly of both Guyer and Urquhart but that we also believed an American should occupy the Bunche position. We would want to talk to SYG about how he envisages the job and would want to be sure that the person we nominate is not only qualified but an individual with whom SYG can work closely. In response to SYG’s question, Bush said this was an official US position.
Waldheim said he would go along since it was accepted practice that this was an American position. He expressed warm appreciation for Bush’s willingness to discuss qualifications and to be certain that individual eventually nominated would be acceptable personally to SYG.
On financial crisis, Waldheim said he had already broached matter with Malik and had stressed Sovs would have to help solve problem. Practical solution would have to be found which got around Sov views on legal issues involved. When Malik in a position to talk, he envisaged series of bilateral discussions between himself, Sovs, US and others in first instance to see if elements of solution could be found. He also planned to talk to Chinese about finances as well as personnel in the near future.
On the administrative side, Waldheim said he well aware that there was much duplication and that not all Secretariat personnel were fully employed. A UN inspector Bernard (French) had made a comprehensive survey and Waldheim said he would study it carefully. He said he would also welcome any US suggestions and would give them every consideration.
Waldheim confirmed that he would be reviewing UN humanitarian effort in East Bengal with Guyer, Henry and others Jan 6. He had impression US prepared assist through the UN but said that Sovs wished to contribute directly to Bangladesh. Bush took line para 6 State 232870.2 US willing to share in international effort but UN should not assume we would play leading role or assume preponderant share of the costs. Bush said he would be discussing US views in greater detail with Guyer and Urquhart Jan 4.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 303, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. X. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 10 BANGLADESH)