425. Memorandum for the President’s Files by the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1

SUBJECT

  • President’s Meeting with Secretary William Rogers, Ambassador George Bush, and Brigadier General Alexander M. Haig, Friday, October 22, 1971 at 2:15 p.m. The Oval Office2

PARTICIPANTS

  • The President
  • Secretary William Rogers
  • Ambassador George Bush
  • Brigadier General Alexander M. Haig

The President opened the meeting by informing the group that he wished to review the status of the vote line-up prior to United Nations consideration of the UN Chinese representation issue.3 Secretary Rogers commented that he was very concerned about the timing of Dr. Kissingers return from Peking. He felt that should Dr. Kissinger arrive on Sunday or just before the UN vote on Monday, it could have a most deleterious impact on the outcome of the vote. Ambassador Bush endorsed Secretary Rogers’ view, noting at the same time that Dr. [Page 845] Kissinger’s trip had cast an ambivalent cloud on the UN vote.4 In some cases it appeared to suggest a U.S. cynicism with respect to our concern about Taiwan’s continued membership. On the other hand, it also confirmed among the eastern bloc and the Communist supporting nations that China as well might not have the strong view that expulsion of Taiwan was essential.

General Haig stated that he did not believe Dr. Kissinger’s return would have a deleterious impact on the UN vote and that in sum the impact of Dr. Kissinger’s visit was neutralized on both sides of the voting ledger.

President Nixon then said that in any event it would be well if General Haig informed Dr. Kissinger immediately that he should delay his return to Washington so as to arrive after the UN vote had been taken. The President suggested that Dr. Kissinger lay over in Hawaii or in Alaska for the purpose of rest so that his arrival could be effected quietly following the vote. General Haig retorted that this kind of a layover would appear contrived to the press and might give credence to rumors that the trip was connected in some way to the U.S. attitude on the UN vote. Secretary Rogers strongly disagreed with General Haig and stated that Dr. Kissinger’s arrival before the vote would definitely influence the attitude of many fence-sitting nations. The President [Page 846]directed that General Haig instruct Dr. Kissinger to lay over in either Hawaii or Alaska so as to return following the vote.5

The group then proceeded to review the status of those countries whose vote would be unfavorable on the Chirep issue or whose vote at that time was uncertain. Secretary Rogers urged the President to make direct communications with certain heads of state either telephonically or by written message. The President agreed that he would make certain telephone calls. Included among these would be a call to the President of Mexico, a special message to the President of Argentina, a call to the President of Italy, and a call to the King of Morocco.

The question was then debated as to whether or not the President should intervene personally in the case of the Irish. The President decided that this would not be an effective move and noted that the current Irish attitude was closely linked to the airlines problem. If the Irish were to vote against us in the United Nations, despite our urging up to now, it could not but have a serious impact on our attitude on airline rights negotiations. He wanted this thought clearly conveyed to the Irish and at the same time he wanted it clearly conveyed that were their vote to be favorable we would take this into consideration in deciding the airlines issue.

The President stated that he was appalled that certain African countries who had received our support consistently were apparently going to vote against us in the United Nations. He instructed Secretary of State Rogers to move promptly with respect to those countries with whom the United States had “clout.”

Following the discussion of the status of the United Nations vote, Secretary Rogers observed that the vote was very tightly balanced and that at that point in time the United States might win or lose by one vote. He was somewhat optimistic that the U.S. would win by one vote. The President commented that he was somewhat less optimistic but in any event it would be important to use that day’s meeting to further emphasize the President’s personal interest in the outcome of the vote. For this reason he suggested that Secretary Rogers and Ambassador Bush accompany him into the Rose Garden where they might be photographed by the press to insure that all understood there was a high-level meeting to discuss the outcome of the United Nations vote on the Chinese representation issue.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Memcons, President’s File, October–November 1971. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. The meeting ended at 3 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) A recording of the meeting is ibid., White House Tapes, October 22, 2:05–3:00 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 599–17.
  3. Nixon and Kissinger wanted the Department of State to take the lead on the UN fight and had told Bush to “fight hard” to keep the ROC in the General Assembly. (Ibid., September 30, 9:22–9:54 a.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 581–2) Nixon asked Rogers to handle the UN issue: “I think getting me involved puts in too direct a deal, particularly when we’re working out the Peking, too direct in the case that we’ll try to play it as if we’re playing it against Peking, which is really not the case.” (Ibid., October 17, 6:13–6:26 p.m., White House Telephone, Conversation No. 11–105) On another occasion Nixon said that he wanted to avoid personal involvement in the UN issue and to enable Rogers to gain support from conservatives for the Secretary’s role in attempting to keep the ROC in the United Nations. (Ibid., October 14, 3:05–5:40 p.m., Old Executive Office Building, Conversation No. 289–18)
  4. The timing of the UN vote on Chinese representation and Kissinger’s second trip to the PRC became a source of concern as it became apparent that the vote would be held in late October rather than in November, earlier than U.S. officials had anticipated. In numerous conversations, Nixon and Kissinger wondered whether the trip would reduce the chances for the ROC remaining in the United Nations. On September 30 Kissinger concluded that “I think basically the votes are set now. I do not think objectively it effects the votes of anybody.” Nixon responded: “I know, no, I know that. People will use things for excuses.” They also debated attempting to change the date of Kissinger’s trip to China, but felt that going to the PRC immediately after the defeat in the United Nations would be even more difficult. Ultimately, Kissinger felt that there was little chance of winning the UN vote: “I mean I thought as long as we were going to lose we were better off losing on the old stand. But, I think we’re farther behind than they [Department of State officials] think. You have to consider that these diplomats when they talk to us, they’ll try to make it sound as good as possible. Why annoy us 4 weeks before the vote?” (Ibid., September 30, 2:25–2:50 p.m., Oval Office, Conversation No. 582–3) On October 12 Jeanne Davis sent the following language to Eliot for distribution to all posts: “You may be asked by host governments about ChiRep implications of Kissinger trip to Peking at end of this month. If so, you should stress that sole purpose of trip is to make arrangements for Presidential visit and that there is no connection between Kissinger trip and ChiRep issue. The U.S. is firmly supporting the continued membership of the ROC in the UN.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 87, Country Files, China Trip, October 1971) Nixon was only slightly more optimistic on future of the ROC in the United Nations, stating on one occasion: “My idea is that the time for Taiwan to go out is next year, shouldn’t be this year, it’s not good for the Chinese.” (Ibid., White House Tapes, October 14, 3:05–5:40 p.m., Old Executive Office Building, Conversation No. 289–18)
  5. The October 20–26 messages exchanged between Kissinger in Peking and the White House are printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XVII, China, 1969–1972.