16. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • The Secretary’s Bilateral Talk with Foreign Secretary Stewart—Rhodesia

PARTICIPANTS

  • U.S.:
    • The Secretary
    • Amb. Pedersen, Counselor
    • Asst. Secy. Hillenbrand
    • Asst. Secy. Sisco
    • Mr. McCloskey, S/PRS
    • Mr. Thompson, SecDel
  • British:
    • FonSec Stewart
    • Lord Caradon
    • Sir Denis Greenhill
    • Mr. Hayman
    • Mr. Graham
    • Mr. Hayden
    • Mr. Evans

When the Secretary complimented Stewart on his excellent speech before the General Assembly on September 22, the British Foreign Secretary noted that the section of the speech dealing with Rhodesia had attracted the most attention in the British press. Stewart said that while he was grateful for past American support of the British position on Rhodesia, he hoped we would not continue to maintain our “diplomatic mission” at Salisbury. Our having official representation there only gave impetus to Rhodesian hopes for “creeping recognition” from the Western countries which kept representatives stationed in Rhodesia. The UK had withdrawn its diplomatic representatives and the Foreign Secretary hoped that we would now do likewise. The Secretary said that the U.S. was aware both of the British viewpoint on this matter and of the drawbacks involved in our maintaining a Consulate [Page 28]General in Rhodesia.2 He had discussed the situation with several African leaders, and he understood how they felt. On the other hand, there was some thought within the U.S. government that we should continue to have a few people to service the needs of the Americans in Rhodesia. The U.S. had considerable interests there. The Secretary believed that our staff at the Consulate General was now down to three men.

The British Foreign Secretary asked whether we would at least withdraw our people at the time Rhodesia declares itself a republic.3 (Lord Caradon thought this might be in the spring or even earlier.) The Secretary replied that he would recommend to the President that we close our Consulate General when the Rhodesian republic is declared.4

Stewart said the Rhodesian issue was a smoldering one which can flame up again in the UN at any time. Lord Caradon observed that the Security Council Resolution on Rhodesia had been unanimous;5 the fact that the U.S. government continued to have representatives in Rhodesia might give us some difficulties. Ambassador Pedersen pointed out that the SC resolution had been in the form of a recommendation to UN members and was not mandatory.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL UK–US. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Thompson on September 24 and approved by Brown on September 27. The meeting was held at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The memorandum is part 3 of 7.
  2. During a January 28, 1970, meeting between Rogers and Stewart, the Foreign Secretary repeated his request for the United States to close the Consulate in Rhodesia. Stewart said that the issue was damaging to “long term policy in black Africa,” and was used by “those who wanted a complete reversal of HMG’s Rhodesia policy.” (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., Central Files 1970–73, POL UK–US)
  3. In telegram 102572 to London, June 23, 1969, the Department transmitted its reaction to the June 20 Rhodesian referendum seeking constitutional changes and the establishment of a Republic: “The US regards a referendum in which only 1.1 per cent of the population of Southern Rhodesia approved the results to be a travesty of commonly accepted methods of ascertaining the popular will.” The telegram concluded: “The question of the future of our small consular office in Salisbury is under study at the present time.” (Ibid., Central Files 1967–69, POL 16 RHOD)
  4. A July 22 memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon mentions Rogers’s recommendation to close the Consulate in Salisbury in response to the June 20 referendum. Kissinger noted Nixon’s earlier decision to maintain the Consulate, and requested that the Department of State’s recommendation be rejected. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 743, Country Files, Africa, Rhodesia, Vol. I) Nixon reaffirmed his decision to maintain the Consulate on January 15, 1970, but changed his position at the request of the British Government on March 9 (see Documents 25 and 28).
  5. Presumably a reference to Security Council Resolution 253 (1968), which was adopted unanimously on May 29, 1968. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1968, pp. 152–154) Concerned about the lack of compliance by several member states, the Council revisited the issue in a series of meetings held June 13–24, 1969. A draft resolution submitted by Algeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Senegal, and Zambia on June 19 reiterated many of the points in Resolution 253 (1968), called for mandatory sanctions under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, and called on the United Kingdom to “take urgently all necessary measures, including the use of force” to put an end to the minority regime. The Council voted on June 24 with 8 in favor, 0 against, and 7 abstentions. Without the required majority, the resolution was not adopted. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1969, pp. 119–120)