President Zia’s exchange of letters with Carter on UN Security Council

Bangladesh was a successful candidate for the United Nations Security Council’s membership in 1978. But before the election for membership, Bangladesh needed the support of the majority of the nations including the permanent member United States.

President Zia on June 26, 1978, wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter of the U.S. for his support in favour of Bangladesh’s candidature. President Carter clarified the position of the U.S. regarding the UN Security Council membership. The texts of the letters are here for the readers.

Letter From Bangladeshi President Zia to President Carter


You may be aware that Bangladesh is a candidate for membership of the UN Security Council for the term of 1979–80. I have instructed my Ambassador to apprise you of the merits of our candidature and also to discuss this issue with concerned members of your Government.

Bangladesh’s candidature underscores our commitment to the United Nations Charter and our election would afford us an opportunity to play a vigorous role in striving for the maintenance of international peace and promotion of understanding between nations.

As a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Commonwealth and as a least-developed country, Bangladesh has been actively participating in various important international organizations. Bangladesh has thus been in the mainstream of all significant international movements committed to peace, stability and progress. It has been her constant endeavour to contribute in a constructive manner to deliberations on international issues on the basis of justice and fair play. Bangladesh has at all times striven for a realistic and balanced approach to issues in a spirit of understanding and conciliation.

I am happy to inform you that we have already received assurances of support from a number of friendly countries. The Ninth Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Dakar has also endorsed our candidature. Election of Bangladesh to the Security Council would also vindicate the principle of geographical rotation in filling vacancies in various UN organs and thus help towards realization of our shared objective of making the United Nations organs more representative in character.

In view of the cordial and friendly relations existing between our two countries, I hope it will be possible for Your Excellency’s Government to extend its support to our candidature. Your valuable support would go a long way towards ensuring our success in the election.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Ziaur Rahman


President Carter replied on September 4, 1978. He informed that the U.S. customarily defers from taking any position on elections to United Nations bodies until the preferences of the respective regional groups are known.

Letter From President Carter to Bangladeshi President Zia

Dear Mr. President:

Some weeks ago, I was pleased to send you my congratulations on your election as President of Bangladesh. I am aware that your election was part of a process by which your country, under your leadership, is endeavoring to establish effective representative government under the safeguards of a constitutional system. I understand that parliamentary elections are to be held before the end of the year, and I am both pleased and impressed by your courage and determination.

I had hoped we might have an opportunity to meet and talk if you came to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly. However, I fear that this will not be possible. I hope you will understand that I must give close attention to domestic affairs in the next few months, in particular, to the Congressional elections in November. For this reason, I will have to limit very severely my meetings with foreign leaders who may be visiting the United States during the General Assembly session. I do hope we will be able to meet at some future date.

Ambassador Schneider has kept me informed of your efforts to bring representative government to Bangladesh. He has also described your efforts to improve economic and social conditions in your country. I am impressed by your decision to give priority to agriculture, family planning, and rural development. Your success in these crucial areas could well set an example for other countries. I am pleased that our governments have been able to conclude new agreements that support important programs launched under your leadership.

I appreciate the points which you laid out in your letter of June 26 about Bangladesh’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations [Page 105]Security Council. As you know, the United States customarily defers taking any position on elections to United Nations bodies until the preferences of the respective regional groups are known.5 We will, of course, take full account of the considerations you mentioned in your letter.

I am very pleased with the way relations are developing between our two countries. I appreciate the opportunity to exchange correspondences with leaders of important and friendly countries such as yours from time to time.

With best personal regards,


Jimmy Carter


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