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472. Memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Official Visit by United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim

I. OVERVIEW

A. Issues Waldheim May Raise

1. Overall Relations

Waldheim will seek an expression of your support of his efforts generally. He will expect you to characterize the policy of your Administration towards the United Nations.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to the Special Session on Disarmament.]

7. Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD)

The General Assembly last November decided to hold a Special Session in 1978 on disarmament to give new political impetus to negotiations generally, to assert the interest of the UN in the field and to develop a program for future multilateral efforts. Three preparatory conferences are to be held during 1977 beginning in late March.

We have adopted an open-minded attitude toward the proposal, indicating our willingness to participate actively and with constructive ideas. We recognize that the Special Session, as a prominent and highly political forum, presents some risks of confrontation, polemics, and recommendations that we might not be able to accept. At the same time, however, we see some potential for useful action at the session in such areas as nonproliferation and conventional arms limitation and perhaps on a comprehensive test ban.

The Secretary General’s role in the preparation is largely formal and administrative, although the Secretariat is expected to be charged with preparing background reports and the Secretary General is certain to submit his own views in a special report to the session when it convenes.

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Talking Points (If Raised)

—The United States is taking an open-minded attitude toward the Special Session on Disarmament and will participate actively in the process.

—We see a potential for a constructive outcome from the session if all approach it in a spirit of cooperation and with a commitment to work toward realistic and generally acceptable results.2

[Omitted here is information unrelated to the Special Session on Disarmament.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 14, United Nations, Secretary General Waldheim, 2/25–26/77: Cables and Memos. Confidential.
  2. Carter and Waldheim met on February 27 but the Secretary General did not raise the SSOD issue. The memoranda of conversation is scheduled to be printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXV, United Nations; Global Issues.