118. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon 1


  • Discussion with U Thant on the UN Relief Effort in East Pakistan

In two meetings August 10 with the Secretary-General and members of his staff and of the specialized agencies involved, I stressed our desire to see the UN rise to the great humanitarian challenge posed by the risk of famine and disease among the victims of the strife in East Pakistan and assured him of our strong support for the UN effort.

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U Thant seemed fully aware of the magnitude and urgency of the problem and was very cooperative. He expressed concern over the threats being made by the guerrilla leadership against the safety of UN personnel in the area and preoccupied by the need for a political accommodation with the Awami League in East Pakistan as the only real solution. He said he is prepared under Article 99 of the UN Charter2 to bring the situation between India and Pakistan to the attention of the Security Council if he decides that it involves a serious threat to peace. He will announce this week, probably Wednesday,3 that he has decided to station 38 UN officials in the Dacca area by early September to coordinate and expedite the movement of relief supplies and to work out arrangements to assure that the supplies reach those in need. Once such arrangements are made he plans to send some 150 additional personnel to other parts of East Pakistan, including the reception centers established to handle returning refugees. Their staffing plan seems sensible.

He was grateful for our one million dollar contribution and the promise of additional financial aid for this effort, to which the UK is also contributing some $500,000. At the same time he displayed considerable concern lest the US appear to be dominating the UN effort, and particularly at any effort to politicize the UN relief effort.

The discussions with U Thantʼs staff and representatives of the specialized agencies revealed substantial agreement with our assessment of the relief needs and what needs to be done to meet them. On the whole, I was favorably impressed by their competence and realistic attitude.

At U Thantʼs request, Mr. Sisco and I gave him a brief and general appraisal of Mr. Siscoʼs talks with Israeli officials, stressing that serious problems remain but that we are cautiously optimistic that an interim agreement is yet possible by the end of the year and that both sides continue to welcome our efforts to that end. U Thant said he would relay this information to Ambassador Jarring.

Incidentally, from the firmness with which U Thant spoke about his intention if necessary to raise the Indo-Pakistan matter in the Security Council and his stress on his good health, we came away with the impression that he is more than willing to remain as Secretary-General.

William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 10 PAK. Confidential.
  2. Article 99 of the UN Charter reads: “The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” (American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents, Vol. I, p. 158)
  3. August 11.