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Israel Objects to Naming Tunisian Delegate As U.N. Secretary General

September 29, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The question whether the Tunisian delegate Mongi Slim, President of the United Nations General Assembly this year, is fit to be named for the post of Acting Secretary General of the United Nations, succeeding the late Dag Hammarskjold, was today a subject of intensive discussion among delegations from various countries, following a move made last night against him by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister.

Mrs. Meir, accompanied by Ambassador Michael S. Comay, Israel’s permanent representative at the United Nations, conferred last night with Adlai E. Stevenson, head of the American delegation to the UN, and pointed out to him that because Tunisia is a member of the Arab League, Mr. Slim and his government are so firmly committed to an anti-Israel attitude that it would be absolutely impossible for him to handle any Arab-Israeli issue in a spirit of neutrality.

In their talk with Mr. Stevenson, Mrs. Meir and Mr. Comay pointed out that Mr. Slim’s and Tunisia’s hostility to Israel goes back a number of years, and did not start with last Monday’s action by Mr. Slim when he snubbed Mrs. Meir. He had turned his back on her rather than shake hands with the Israeli Foreign Minister and with Ambassador Comay at a reception for all delegation chairmen held here Monday by President Kennedy.

Mr. Slim had reportedly told highest United States personalities that he had not noticed Mrs. Meir. approaching the Kennedy reception line, and to have assured the Americans there would be other diplomatic and social occasions when he would shake hands with Mrs. Meir.

Despite this inferred policy, the feeling among numerous delegations here was today that while as President of the General Assembly Mr. Slim is only “a parliamentary traffic cop guiding procedures,” his position of Acting Secretary General would require absolute proof of his being able to act with absolute neutrality on substantive issues. Some of the delegates said they now have “second thoughts” about voting for Mr. Slim for the UN executive post.

Meanwhile today Mr. Meir continued her contacts with many of the foreign ministers and other delegation chairmen attending the UN Assembly. Yesterday, in addition to seeing Mr. Stevenson, Mrs. Meir conferred also with the Earl of Home, Britain’s Foreign Minister; and with Selim Sarper, Foreign Minister of Turkey. At noon today, Mrs. Meir held a conference with Dr. Miguel Angel Carcano, Foreign Minister of Argentina and with Norway’s delegation chairman Sivert A. Nielsen.

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