374. Memorandum From the Assistant Legal Adviser for Politico-Military and Ocean Affairs (Neuman) to the Legal Adviser of the Department of State (Stevenson)1 2

SUBJECT:

  • Expanded basis for “insider” LOS consultations

July, August and September will be critical months for making decisions affecting the future course of our LOS effort. During this period, we will have to decide on UNGA tactics, items for the agenda, and whether or when to surface revised versions of Articles 2 and 3.

I believe that the confined nature of our “close” consultations—i.e. between ourselves and the Soviets may no longer be the most effective method of proceeding. In the first instance, if we have to revise Articles 2 and 3 and wish to surface those revisions sometime in the near future, we had better air our differences with the Soviets and either attempt to reach agreement or frankly give recognition to the fact that we will have to part company in certain substantive ways. Moreover, this process of “facing the realities” will involve very close consultation with several other countries who should at this point, I feel, be brought into the “inner circle.” Japan and the U.K. particularly are beginning to smart over their exclusion from joint planning. Additionally, we are being too closely associated with the Soviets in this initiative, and that close association, while itself undesirable, may become even more disadvantageous in the event the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. cannot agree on the substance of the articles.

I, therefore, think it would be a good idea if we were to convene a meeting late in June of a small group of nations on a very confidential basis. Aside from the U.S., I think this group should include the Soviets, the U.K., Japan, France and Mexico. Our objectives would be to discuss both procedure and substance in an effort to broaden our base of support and share the task of eliciting support from other countries. The [Page 2]active participation of France would provide an additional benefit: in seeking to engage France more extensively, we might gain a useful ally in Africa. The same might be said of the U.K. in relation to Asia.

I have discussed this proposition with Don McKernan who seems to be in strong agreement. He adds the suggestion that our “inner group” might also include one “salesman” from Africa and Asia—e.g. perhaps Malaysia or Singapore, and Senegal or the Ivory Coast.

I would propose that we seek the views of these few countries, suggesting a meeting in late June. A convenient and tactically appropriate place for the meeting might be in Paris. This would have the additional advantage of getting the French more interested and more enthusiastic in support of our proposals. I believe such a meeting would provide many substantial benefits, not the least of which would be probable Soviet pleasure over being included in a discussion of these “quasi-strategic” questions in a “western group.”

If you think there is merit in this proposal, I think we should discuss it very soon, prior to raising it with other agencies.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, POL 33-8. Confidential. A copy was sent to Oxman.
  2. Neuman proposed establishing a small consultative group of representatives from selected governments to negotiate Law of the Sea issues confidentially and build support for U.S. positions.