President Ford–Henry Kissinger–Kurt Waldheim memcon (September 9, 1974)

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President Ford–Henry Kissinger–Kurt Waldheim memcon  (1974) 
with Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Kurt Waldheim and John Scali

September 9, 1974 conversation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. ARC #1552778

Seal of the United States Department of State.svg

Washington, D.C. 20520



US: The President
Secretary Kissinger
Ambassador John Scali, U.S. Representative to the UN
Ambassador William B. Buffum, Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs
UN: Secretary General Kurt Waldheim
Under Secretary General Bradford Morse
Date & Time:
September 9, 1974, 2:30 p.m.
The White House
Secretary General Waldheim's Call on President Ford

THE PRESIDENT: It's very nice to have you drop by so that I have a chance to get acquainted with you. I have always been friendly to the UN and supported its efforts.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you very much for seeing me. Since this is our first meeting, may I congratulate you on assuming the Presidency. I very much appreciated the kind letter you sent me immediately after you took office. I have been looking forward to this visit and the chance to make your acquaintance.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kissinger has always spoken very highly of you and your collaboration.

THE SECRETARY: Yes, we have been working very closely together.

THE PRESIDENT: It is so nice to see you, Brad (Morse). We had a long and pleasant relationship in the Congress even though we didn't always agree on everything.

MORSE: That's true, but I am glad that our disagreements never affected our relationship.

THE PRESIDENT: I recall one visit we had to Lowell, Massachusetts, and had to get to the Boston Airport 35 miles away so I could catch a flight to Detroit, and we only had about 20 minutes to do it.

MORSE: I recall that we had a police escort but even so we went 5 miles out of the way.

THE PRESIDENT: I was told afterward we were traveling at least a hundred miles an hour in some spots, and I certainly would have been scared if I had known it at the time.

MORSE: I decided we wouldn't tell you until we got on the plane.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm looking forward to coming to New York on the 18th.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I am grateful for your visit. I think it will give a push to the session. I am particularly happy you are coming because it will show the membership how much interest you take in the UN. I hope you can stay for lunch with me.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I would be honored to stay for lunch after the reception we will be giving following my speech.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I would plan to invite members of the Steering Committee and other leading personalities to lunch with you right after the reception.

THE PRESIDENT: I'll be pleased to join you. The last time I was in New York was not for an official UN function.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: That's right. That was for the UN Association dinner. You gave an excellent statement there.

THE PRESIDENT: I remember the evening. I was late getting there, having been delayed by a vote in the Senate. Well, Mr. Secretary General, do you have any problems at the UN?

SECRETARY GENERAL: We certainly do. However, I think our efforts are completely complementary to yours, and we have been working closely with Dr. Kissinger. I think the efforts we've been making are useful for the parties and for peace, and I look forward to continuing the same close cooperation.

THE PRESIDENT: I want to congratulate you, Mr. Secretary General, on the fine job you have just done in Cyprus. I thought you moved into a very difficult situation extremely well in the face of intense jealousies and other difficulties between the Greeks and Turks.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you for your kind words. I do think it was important to get the communal talks going because the Greeks do not want to go back to the Geneva Conference now, and I felt it was important to find some other way to prepare the ground for a resumption of negotiations in Geneva or some other forum. There is not, in my opinion, any chance for the Soviet proposal of a big conference to succeed. Both Karamanlis and Mavros told me they had to accept it in principle but at the same time realized it wouldn't produce results, and told the Soviets they were only interested in a conference that would involve serious negotiations. The Soviet Ambassador was not happy when Mavros told him of their answer.

THE PRESIDENT: Once you start that kind of a negotiating process, it would never end and would undermine the more serious UN efforts with the two communities. I am glad the Greeks said no.

SECRETARY GENERAL: No, the Greeks really didn't take it seriously and recognized it as a propaganda proposal. Naturally the Soviets felt unhappy at being left out. Their conference idea had no chance from the beginning. The same is true of the three-man Security Council mission being discussed in New York right now, involving Indonesia, Peru and the Cameroons. I spoke to the Indonesian and Peruvian, and neither is very enthusiastic about it. I also spoke to Ambassador Iver Richard of the UK this morning, who is President of the Security Council, and he considers the idea as more or less dead. I myself don't consider the mission necessary, since we know the facts. If Clerides and Denktash make progress, this offers a better chance to get a settlement than sending special fact-finding missions.

THE PRESIDENT: If Clerides and Denktash can reach a compromise, it should make it easier for Karamanlis and Ecevit to sit down together.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Denktash has very little freedom of action and must take his orders from Ecevit. I got a letter from him yesterday which I just wrote Dr. Kissinger about. Karamanlis had told me that before he goes back to Geneva the Turks must make some gesture of good-will such as permitting the return of the refugees and agreeing at least in principle to withdraw.

THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't think the Greek Cypriots, who fled an area that is now completely under Turkish control, would want to go back since they would feel completely isolated.

SECRETARY GENERAL: The Turks want all of their people concentrated in one area.

THE SECRETARY: There is a concentration of Turkish Cypriots in the southeast corner of the Island near the UK sovereign base which is not under Turkish occupation. They have driven the Greek Cypriots out of there. They now want to get their own people back.

SECRETARY GENERAL: When I talked to Ecevit, he said he was ready to withdraw his forces in phases but not before negotiations begin. He also said he was ready to reduce Turkish troops by several thousand if Turks are permitted to return home. Karamanlis would not accept this because it would lead to the separation of the two communities. However, I think something between these two positions will come out of the process.

THE SECRETARY: If you look at the position taken by the Greeks and Turks a few weeks ago and compare it with where we are now, there has already been definite progress. The direction outlined by the Secretary General is the right way to go.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: The Secretary General was most helpful in getting these talks started and in diverting the Soviet proposal. We have been working ourselves this last week-end to assure that nothing is done to sidetrack the Secretary General's initiative. We want to see results.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I think that the Clerides-Denktash talks do offer the best prospects particularly now that the Turkish Government agrees the talks can move from humanitarian to political issues.

THE SECRETARY: I believe the Secretary General's mission shows clearly how he and we work fruitfully together. We keep each other informed on what we are doing, and have a happy relationship.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I am grateful for the information you recently provided me on the Middle East talks. I am watching the Secretary's efforts carefully.

THE SECRETARY: I would be happy to turn it over to the Secretary General.

THE PRESIDENT: I want you to know that I am happy -- and believe the American people are, too -- with the role played by Ambassador Scali in New York.

SECRETARY GENERAL: We have very good relations.

THE PRESIDENT: He's doing a fine job.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Yes, that is right. For example, last night he just did another good job in handling a difficult TV interview.

THE PRESIDENT: What program was that?

AMBASSADOR SCALI: Buckley's "Firing Line".

SECRETARY GENERAL: Ambassador Scali defended the UN very nicely.

THE SECRETARY: I have to be a little suspicious because Buckley praised John in his recent book.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: He also praised you.

THE SECRETARY: Yes, but he handled it by saying he knows me and therefore doesn't think I meant what I said when I gave my speech to the Special Session in the spring.

THE PRESIDENT: I've been on his program and enjoyed that, although he does throw curves at you.

THE SECRETARY: It was a good move to put him on the U.S. Delegation last fall. He has more respect and understanding for the institution.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I'm also glad to have Brad Morse as the senior U.S. representative at the UN. We want to have closer relations with Congress, although this is difficult for us, and I know he can be helpful.

THE PRESIDENT: How long were you in the House, Brad?

MORSE: Eleven years.

THE PRESIDENT: I could use some support from you with some of your old friends on the Foreign Aid Bill. Doc Morgan is doing his best to help, but he seems to have lost his drive. There are six or eight liberal Democrats who are causing problems -- even guys like Gross are doing quite well. I called Morgan about a month ago, who saw Gross, and he was helpful.

THE SECRETARY: The Washington Post had a good editorial today.

THE PRESIDENT: I saw it, and it was good. Several Democrats are doing screwy things.

THE SECRETARY: They are cutting the aid level below a figure where it would do any good at all. The President has been working on this.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, even Wayne Hays is being helpful.

MORSE: I'll be on the Hill tomorrow and I'll try to help. I'm still a U.S. citizen.

THE PRESIDENT: I know you have a group that you can work with.

MORSE: I know exactly who you mean -- people like Fraser -- and I will do my best to be helpful.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: Fraser is a great UN supporter.

THE SECRETARY: Did you read that Fulbright was lecturing the Chinese about the UN? I couldn't believe it, but he told them they should have more faith in the UN.

SECRETARY GENERAL: They are so negative or at least passive -- they either abstain or don't participate in most big decisions.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: They see it primarily as a forum for blocking the Soviets.

SECRETARY GENERAL: We expected useful participation from them, but the opposite has been the case.

MORSE: I believe they will change.

THE SECRETARY: I agree with Ambassador Scali. Their main objective is to block the Soviets. If they were to play a more active role, they would have to act as leaders of the Third World and therefore be in opposition to us, so I'm not sure it would be a good thing to have them more active. They are so sensitive about their relations with the Russians. At dinner in New York with Huang Hua we were getting along fine until I spoke to Gromyko, and he wouldn't talk to me again that evening.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I had a similar experience. I invited the Soviets first to a dinner and my invitation to the same dinner to the Chinese didn't arrive until the following week. I learned later that they declined because the Soviets had been invited first. There is tremendous jealousy there.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you think there will be any trouble because of the picture showing me and Dobrynin eating hot dogs?

THE SECRETARY: Yes, there will. They are very sensitive about this.

THE PRESIDENT: I have done something for them. I threw in a few sentences in my Chicago speech saying I admired Chinese youth.

THE SECRETARY: I know. Dobrynin complained to me just one hour after you gave the speech and wanted to know what you found admirable in Chinese youth. I told him I didn't know.

THE PRESIDENT: I only gave them three sentences.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: But remember, there haven't been any pictures of the Chinese eating hot dogs with you.

THE PRESIDENT: Will they exploit that? Kissinger warned me against it.

THE SECRETARY: It's not a bad thing to have them worried a little bit.

THE PRESIDENT: If that's the only worry we give them, they're well off.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I notice that while they attack the Soviet Union bitterly they are rather tolerant of the United States.

THE SECRETARY: When one of our members on the Congressional delegation in Peking asked why they always attack us and the Soviets together, the answer was, interestingly enough, that the attacks against us are much less intense than those against the Soviets, and that is true.

AMBASSADOR SCALI: Mr. President, we go out of our way to tell the Chinese approximately what we plan to do so there are no great shocks. There seems, in fact, to be a feeling of trust which was begun by the Secretary in his relations with them.

THE SECRETARY: One interesting thing is that when the Chinese give their word, they keep it.

THE PRESIDENT: Hale Boggs and I met Huang Hua in China in 1972. He seemed a bright and charming man who is a chain-smoker. In the two or three hours we were together he never stopped smoking.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Yes, and they are always drinking some kind of Chinese schnapps. May I now ask about another subject? That is, with reference to the economic and social situation. I would certainly appreciate it if the United States could help in establishing the emergency operation which the last Special GA asked me to do. A number of others are waiting to see what the U.S. will contribute either in money, food or otherwise. The European Community has promised 500 million dollars if others will contribute.

THE SECRETARY: By the time the President goes to New York, I believe we will have an answer on food assistance.

THE PRESIDENT: I will be discussing this with Secretary Kissinger. I know the deep concern you have and will be working with the Secretary on the problem. However, I don't think we are at the point yet to make a specific commitment, although you can be sure we are very sympathetic.

SECRETARY GENERAL: Some gesture would be helpful. I do not think the general world picture is as bad as the press often describes. There has been progress in Africa with the Portuguese moves, and I hope there will be progress in the Middle East before we face the question later this fall on extending the mandates of the peacekeeping forces. I don't suppose the Geneva Conference on the Middle East can reconvene before the end of the year.

THE SECRETARY: No. But we can make progress before the Conference resumes, and that is the important thing so there will not be a collision there between the Arabs and Israelis. If we make progress outside, then we can call on the conference to ratify it.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I agree. No conference should be convened which would just fail.

THE PRESIDENT: I believe that to have an unsuccessful meeting would be catastrophic.

SECRETARY GENERAL: I agree. We are having some problems with the Syrians. Under Secretary General Guyer is in Damascus now talking with them about the relationship between UNDOF and the demilitarized zone.

THE SECRETARY: I believe the Syrians will probably agree to an extension of the UNDOF mandate next fall but only 48 hours ahead of the deadline, so I don't think we should be in a hurry to ask them about that. The important thing is to get the Egyptians first and then the Syrians. They never make a concession until five minutes before midnight. If progress is made in the talks, they will want to be a part of it. Then if we say they can be a part only by extending UNDOF, it is likely to be o.k.. I think we can barely make it in November. However, next June is going to be a nightmare. That will be the make-or-break situation.

SECRETARY GENERAL (on taking leave): Will Mrs. Ford be joining you in New York?

THE PRESIDENT: I have not spoken about it to her yet. If she is not otherwise engaged, I think she might like to come up.

SECRETARY GENERAL: If she does, I know my wife would be pleased to give a lunch in her honor at our residence.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I will let you know.


Seal of the United States Department of State.svg


Washington, D.C. 20520

September 10, 1974



Subject: UN Secretary General Waldheim's Call on President Ford, September 9, 1974

Attached is a Memorandum of Conversation covering UN Secretary General Waldheim's call on President Ford on September 9.

George S. Springsteen
Executive Secretary


Memorandum of Conversation

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).