29. Telegram 1508 From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1 2


  • LOS: Reaction to Secretary’s N.Y. Speech April 8
Summary: Initial reaction to Secretary’s LOS speech and his meeting with LOS Conference leadership was favorable both as to substance and particularly as to importance of indication of high level U.S. interest in Conference breakthrough now. New elements of US policy revealed (deep seabeds and scientific research) well received. Those who want or are prepared to accept the kind of treaty likely to emerge are enthusiastic; those who don’t or are uncertain about the outcome of specific issues of importance to them, are nervous. Main Conference officers are very happy, with possible exception of Canada. End summary.
Indication of high level interest. There was universal enthusiasm at the indication of high level USG interest in an early and successful conclusion to LOS Conference, coupled with a reasoned analysis of importance of negotiations beyond the oceans themselves and a real effort to find solutions to outstanding issues. The call on Conference leadership and extemporaneous remarks at reception were widely welcomed as a sign of real interest. Some (eg. Lauterpacht of Australia) felt Secretary’s statement that he will go to Geneva could bring negotiation to a halt here, while others felt those here would race to get issues resolved before their own Foreign Ministers—drawn by the Secretary—take over.
Tone and general approach. Comments ranged from “very good” (Kozyrev-USSR) to “threatening” (some members of Canadian and Mexican delegations.). Japan (Fujisaki) found a great deal in it for LDC’s (a view shared by Conference President Amerasinghe, Committee I Chairman Engo, and various Africans, including Zambia), but “nothing for Japan.” Some members of Secretariat said the US has presented its package and said “take it or leave it”: all we need do now is decide. Beesley (Canada), Evensen (Norway), and Galindo Pohl (El Salvador) reported widespread reaction that proposals were “moderate” and forthcoming.”
Deep seabed proposals. Chairman Paul Engo was very enthusiastic. Most delegations appreciate that the Secretary’s commodity proposals reflected real effort by USG, and tend to accept without comment his oral indications that this is about as far as we could go. More sophisticated delegations are still waiting to see what it means-i.e., the real US position on an Article 9 text, thus there was no rpt no reference by other dels to the Secretary’s speech in the secret Brazil Group on Friday or Saturday. The reserved areas idea is not new to the Conference, but some believe high level US endorsement was necessary to demonstrate inevitability of this solution (eg. Conference President Amerasinghe). While LDC’s seem pleased, developed states (e.g. France and Japan) were displeased at the rejection of quota restrictions on U.S. access.
Scientific research. The announcement of US willingness to negotiate on the basis of the resource related distinction, and the affirmation of U.S. willingness to meet obligations for non-resource related research, were widely welcomed (even by Tanzania) as breathing life into a scientific research negotiation that is finally getting off the ground.
Pollution. Only Canada and Kenya, who both made the point directly to the Secretary, are harping on our failure to mention coastal state rights with respect to vessel-source pollution. (With our private explorations with Canada on an arctic settlement still incomplete, Canada may be nervous that we are keeping all options open).
Economic zone. France—which is trying to whittle down coastal state jurisdiction over fisheries—criticized the implication in the speech that the economic zone is essentially wrapped up. While recognizing the importance the US attaches to the issue of the status of the economic zone, the coastal states, on the other hand, were relieved by the Secretary’s tone in view of the onslaught of the landlocked at this session and warned of a deteriorating situation caused by the landlocked. While Njenga of Kenya has repeated his strong words to the Secretary regarding the unacceptability of a high seas status for economic zone and dispute settlement in that area, others (eg. New Zealand) felt the exact phrasing used by the Secretary alleviated many fears and opened up some possibilities for negotiation.
Straits. The repetition of our strong position on straits came as no surprise to anyone, and met with virtually no comment. Beesley of Canada continues making the point made to the Secretary that US-Soviet insistence on their straits position means straits states won’t ratify the convention. Warioba of Tanzania made a similar remark.
Evaluation. The Conference has received a needed shot in the arm and prodding. The speech and appearance by the Secretary already seem to be strengthening our bargaining leverage, although it is too early to tell how long this will last or what specific results will emerge. Paul Engo is openly boasting, and the Canadians openly worrying, about the Secretary’s discussion with Engo about US political approaches to recalcitrant governments. The Europeans and Japan have learned from others that Engo directed his wrath at them in the meeting with the Secretary; already the Soviets (Romanov) and Japan (Fujisaki) are referring to a “political” solution to the quota problem on the deep seabeds in Moscow and Tokyo. Some Soviet resentment over being upstaged is possible, but they will get over it. The LDC’s seem to be caught between an emotional reaction to what some regard as a ultimatum on timing and substance, and the evidence of a real US willingness to meet them halfway in the Secretary’s proposals and remarks at the reception. The major impact has been psychological. It will not relieve the US of the need to come to terms of outstanding issues; but it increases our ability to bargain credibly and effectively with less concern that others will not believe we can’t go further. Still, the tough words on timing and substance do open a new opportunity for extremist opponents at both ends (France and Algeria) to play up the “ultimatum” line, or wait and challenge our sincerity. The precise US positions on precise articles will be carefully scrutinized by our opponents for the opportunity to undermine the impact of the speech. Treaty opponents (eg. France) may feel they must take extreme action now to halt any resulting momentum.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to the embassies in London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Nairobi, Ottawa, Cairo, Bonn, Jakarta, Brasilia, Lima, Vienna, Singapore, Dar Es Salaam, Madrid, Jidda, Santiago, and Mexico City. For Kissinger’s speech, see the source note for Document 27.
  2. The Mission reported reactions to Kissinger’s April 8 speech concerning UNCLOS III negotiations.