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18. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Nixon
  • John Scali, Ambassador to the UN
  • M. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Dept. Assistant to the President

President: When do you go?2

Scali: When Waldheim returns from Bangladesh.

President: He’s not too strong. But he’s better than U Thant. We had to give him a shot a while ago.

Give him my regards. Tell him on your own that his predecessor tilted constantly toward the bloc. We don’t want him to tilt toward anyone.

On UN Finance, say it is tough. We will do what we can, but blame the Congress for our inability to do more.

In my view nothing has hurt the UN with the American people more than the failure to act on terrorism. It is difficult to understand how we are major supporters and can’t get a resolution which everyone should want.

On environment, the progress is good. Peacekeeping in the Middle East.

On the Middle East, we are following two approaches. The open approach with Rogers, and our private contacts with the Russians, with the Egyptians in the next few weeks, and with Mrs. Meir.

You must know nothing officially of our private approach. You for your own background but don’t know. If the open approach works, fine, but we are working two tracks and hopefully one will help the other succeed. You must know but keep totally to the public line.

We are Israel’s only friend. Israel has only contempt for the UN. This is a tough issue and you keep close in contact with Rogers and the NSC.

You can float things a bit more. Mrs. Meir cannot keep this totally intransigent attitude and you might be able to float some things.

The Middle East will never be totally settled. We would like to get started on something, though, and the private channel is best. Because [Page 51]if the public channel were to fail, it would be catastrophic. We’ll go public in the channel only when we know it will succeed.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to the Middle East.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 1. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Scali was appointed U.S. Representative to the United Nations on February 2.