Two months after the announcement by Secretary-General U Thant that he wants to retire at the end of this year, the front runner as his successor remains Max Jakobson of Finland.
SV Mr. Jakobson stands at microphone listening to question.
CU Jakobson speaks (SOUND)
TRANSCRIPT: Jakobson (SEQ. 2): "Now, the question of my religion and my Jewish background has been raised in this connection. It may be said that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be a person of no religion, of no race, a person who has no attachment to idealogy, or political convictions or to any particular tradition...a man who casts no shadow. I wonder if it ware possible to find such a person. I think the question of vulnerability, which also has been raised in this connection, raises a number of implications, not only regarding my personal integrity or professional competence, but even implications regarding the sound judgement of the Finnish Government. I have served for almost twenty years in various posts as a servant of the Finnish Government. Some of these posts you might describe as sensitive and if my vulnerability to outside pressure had become apparent during that period of service I am sure the Finnish Government would not have appointed me to this post and would not have presented me as a possible candidate for the post of the Secretary-General."
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Background: Two months after the announcement by Secretary-General U Thant that he wants to retire at the end of this year, the front runner as his successor remains Max Jakobson of Finland. His brilliant career as the Finnish representative at the United Nations since 1965 is acknowledged. His appointment as principal united Nations executive would presumably please the United State and most Western countries and political observers believe the Russians think highly of him.
The primary question is whether the 47-year-old Jewish scholar-diplomat, a one-time journalist, could count on the support of the Arab and Afro-Asian delegations generally. His Jewish extraction may be the main point against him in their eyes. Also, some people believe that a third Scandinavian in the post, after Trygve Lie and Dag Hammarskjoeld, would affront the sensibilities of Africans who may believe that their turn has come.
Mr. Jakobson answered questions on his Jewish background at a press conference held at the United Nations on Monday (3 May).