325. Letter From Secretary of State Vance to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

Dear Zbig:

The United States will participate over the next two years in a number of major international conferences on issues affecting the developing countries, including UNCTAD V, the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development,2 the UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), UNIDO III,3 and a special session of the UN to approve an International Development Strategy for the next decade and beyond.4 The Tokyo Summit is also likely to devote time to North-South issues. We will confront both old and new demands from the developing countries to support policies which they believe will enhance their development prospects and increase their participation in the management of the world economy.

Realistically, we will be hard pressed over the same period to fulfill our current commitments on foreign assistance, meet our arrearages on the multilateral development banks, and obtain Congressional approval of an MTN package and various commodity agreements. We will have to be very cautious about making major new commitments (particularly if the Common Fund is successfully negotiated).

Given the large number of North-South events, and the tight constraints within which we must operate, I believe we must plan an overall approach to our North-South activities over the next two years, relating possible initiatives to scheduled international conferences and carefully managing our public statements. Such advance preparation will enable us to play an active rather than defensive role, consistent with our interests. Within the State Department I have asked Tony Lake, Director of the Policy Planning Staff, and Bob Hormats, Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, to draft a statement of the Administration’s North-South policy and a strategy to explain that policy over the next two years to the American public, the Congress, and to developed and developing [Page 1030] countries participating in the North-South dialogue.5 As part of this exercise, they are identifying US initiatives which might be feasible within the financial and political constraints under which we must operate.

We look forward to working very closely with other agencies in the preparation of such an overall strategy and in the analysis of such potential initiatives. Guy Erb of your staff has been involved in this project from its inception, and we will value the continued participation of him and other members of your staff. When work has sufficiently advanced to take stock, I would hope by mid-January, I envision requesting that a PRC review progress and make recommendations on our overall approach. Let me express my appreciation in advance for the cooperation of your staff in this exercise.


  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 44, North-South: 4/78–2/79. No classification marking.
  2. The World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development took place in Rome July 12–20, 1979.
  3. The UNIDO Third General Conference (UNIDO III) took place in New Delhi January 21–February 9, 1980.
  4. The Eleventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly, which considered the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade, took place August 25–September 15, 1980.
  5. See footnote 8, Document 321.