82. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Soviet Views on Issues of 24th UNGA

PARTICIPANTS

  • Mr. Yuly M. Vorontsov, Counselor, Soviet Embassy
  • Mr. Samuel De Palma, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations

Vorontsov, Counselor, Soviet Embassy, invited me to lunch on August 7 at the Rive Gauche to discuss the pending General Assembly.

1.
Chinese Representation. On the Chinese representation issue, he said he assumed there would be no real “fire” in the discussion this year and that the outcome would be pretty much like last year’s. In this connection, he made some wry comments about recent U.S. statements looking to improved relations with Communist China and said these had not struck a happy note in Moscow in view of recent Chinese-Soviet border incidents. I pointed out that the U.S. statements were consistent with our long-term approach to the Chinese problem and were not calculated to take advantage of the heightened tension between the Soviet Union and China.
2.
Korea. Vorontsov asked whether we foresaw the usual debate on Korea. I told him that some of our friends wonder whether it would be necessary this year to have the usual discussion on Korea and even suggested that perhaps it could be avoided. I said that we would, of course, consider that possibility but that a discussion could only be avoided if both sides cooperated. Vorontsov said he did not know Moscow’s views but he too wondered whether it was necessary to press for any discussion of this question this year.
3.
Ministates. In response to Vorontsov’s request for an explanation of our approach to the question of ministates, I summarized briefly the U.S. position as it has been discussed in New York and expressed the hope that the Soviet Union would look at the question in terms of [Page 128]its real interests and the interests of the U.N. and not merely in terms of scoring propaganda points with certain less-developed countries. Vorontsov thought that there was a genuine interest in this question in Moscow but felt that the Soviets would leave it to the U.S. to carry the brunt of the discussion.
4.

Disarmament. Vorontsov then turned to disarmament questions and wondered what could be put before the General Assembly as an indication of progress in arms control and disarmament. He said that Foreign Minister Gromyko would want to have some “initiative” (he himself put the word in quotations) and disarmament might well be an area he would choose in his G.A. statement. Vorontsov, however, refused to speculate on what Gromyko might suggest other than to imply that something would have to be said in connection with the beginning of the Strategic Arms Talks and possibly on the seabeds arms control measure under discussion in the ENDC. He said he was certain that a date and place for SALT would soon be agreed upon and was awaiting word on this from Ambassador Dobrynin. (He said Dobrynin has been expected to return about the 15th, but the date had not yet been confirmed.)

When I expressed the view that the apparent unwillingness of the Soviet delegation to move from its original position in Geneva would make it impossible for ENDC to register much progress on the seabeds arms control treaty at this session, Vorontsov said that perhaps something could be done at the G.A. to bring our positions closer together. I agreed this was possible but reminded him of the joint interest I assumed both countries had in using the ENDC as a negotiating forum and hoped that some progress could be made there before the Assembly. He seemed to take it for granted that the Soviet position was negotiable as was that of the United States.

5.
Peacekeeping. Finally, he alluded to the discussions on peacekeeping in New York. I said that we would be interested in some indication of a genuine Soviet interest to strengthen U.N. peacekeeping machinery. He said that this matter has attracted high level attention in Moscow, that the practical necessity of having a peacekeeping arrangement in mind in connection with a possible Middle East settlement might be an inducement to make progress in the talks in New York, but no progress could be made unless the United States was prepared to make a substantial accommodation to the Soviet position. I suggested that the prospect for progress would be enhanced if we both looked at the question in terms of the practical arrangements required to improve the efficiency of U.N. peacekeeping rather than in terms of past political developments and positions.
6.
Middle East. In a brief aside regarding the Middle East talks initiated by Vorontsov’s statement that recent Israeli pronouncements were most unhelpful, I said I personally was still looking for some evidence [Page 129]of Soviet willingness to lean on their friends. After asserting that the real question was the willingness of the U.S. to convince Israel to withdraw, Vorontsov said the USSR has put considerable pressure on the UAR and he thought that more pressure could be applied once the question of withdrawal is settled. I stressed the need for a firm and direct commitment by the Arabs to a permanent peace.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, UN 3 GA. Confidential. Drafted by De Palma.