UNO Opened; Attlee Asks World Unity
SPAAK IS ELECTED
Belgian Is President Of The General Assembly After Floor Fight
SOVIET LEADS OPPOSITION
U.S. Votes on Russian Side for Norwegian -- Session Contrasts With League Meeting in 1920
By James B. Reston
By Cable to The New York Times
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One hundred and forty-seven days after the close of the war that cost more than 20,000,000 casualties and left countless millions homeless, and on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the ratification of the ill-fated League of Nations Covenant, the nations met this afternoon in the blue and gold auditorium of the Central Hall of Westminster for the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.
Greeting them on behalf of Britain, which served as the spring-board for the final conquest of Germany, Prime Minister Attlee told them frankly that they would succeed in their new venture only if they brought "the same sense of urgency, the same self-sacrifice and the same willingness to subordinate sectional interests" with which they fought the war.
Spaak Elected President
Then, with a little less dignity than marks the balloting at a political convention at home, they proceeded to elect Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister, as President of the first General Assembly, despite a determined effort by the Soviet Union to replace him with the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Trygve Lie.
This election produced the only extraordinary incident of the day. When Dr. Eduardo Zuleta Angel of Columbia, chairman of the UNO Preparatory Commission and temporary president of the General Assembly, announced the balloting for the Presidency; the deputy chairman of the Soviet delegation, Andrei Gromyko, Russia Ambassador to Washington, asked to be recognized and strode to the microphone on the improvised modernistic blue and gold stage.
It was known at this point that the candidacy of Mr. Spaak would win, but Mr. Gromyko assured that he was supported by the United States, told the General Assembly that his delegation attached great importance to the election and favored the Norwegian Foreign Minister because of his personal capacities and the active movements of his country in the war.
Pole and Ukrainian Back Lie
As soon as Mr. Gromyko had left the rostrum, Foreign Minister Wincenty Rzymowski of Poland asked to be recognized and he then seconded the Russian nomination. When he had finished, D.Z. Manuilsky, the Ukrainian People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, striking, white-maned figure with a booming voice, moved that Dr. Lie be elected by acclamation despite the fact that the rules of the Assembly call for elections by secret ballot.
After another short speech for Dr. Lie by Gustav Rasmussen, Danish Foreign Minister, the temporary-president called for a vote on whether to decide the issue by secret ballot, but immediately Mr. Gromyko rose again and asked for a vote on the motion to elect Dr. Lie by acclamation.
Some confusion attended those motions during which Mr. Manuilsky voted both for the secret ballot and for the election of Dr. Lie by acclamation, but finally fifteen delegations voted for a secret ballot and only nine voted in favor of putting Dr. Lie in by acclaim. The United States abstained on both those votes.
In the second balloting that followed, although M. Spaak had never been formally nominated on the floor, he received twenty-eight votes to twenty-three for Dr. Lie, the United States voting with the Russians for the Norwegian.
Thus the Assembly started with a show of strength by the Soviet Union, which is known to oppose Mr. Spaak because of his close friendship with Britain and his adherence to closer political ties among the Western European democracies- a movement that the Soviet Union has deprecated.
In reviewing this incident afterward some delegates showed interest in the silence of the United States. In the private preliminary discussions that preceded the session the United States had strongly supported Dr. Lie, but when delegates of the Soviet Union and her neighbors demonstrated for the Norwegian, Mr. Byrnes remained in his seat.
The incident, nevertheless, served to emphasize the great contrast between the opening of this General Assembly and the first meeting of the League of Nations General Assembly in Geneva in November, 1920.
Twenty-five years ago, in a peaceful neutral country, untouched by war, the theme was one of confidence in the power of moral force, and the only note of concern was over the absence of the United States and Russia.
In that opening speech twenty-five years ago, Giuseppe Motta, speaking for Switzerland, was certain that the idea of country and the idea of humanity could be fused; that the United States would join the League; and that Russia, "cured of her madness and delivered of her misery," as he said, would come back to the fold.
There were other striking contrasts that indicated the changes of history and illustrated the form and structure of the new security organization. Twenty-five years ago Italy, Japan and Rumania were present because they guessed right about the outcome of the first German war, but today they were absent because they guessed wrong about the second German war.
Two Nations Watched
Today in this grim capital, bleak and scarred by the explosions of German aerial intruders, it was two young and powerful nations, the United States and the Soviet Union, that held the stage, one by its speech and the other by its silence.
Then, too late, the neutrals, Sweden and Portugal, were present because the League of Nations accepted the right of nations to remain neutral in war, but today they were absent because they were not invited and because they are not prepared to abandon their neutrality whenever the Security Council votes the UNO powers into action against an aggressor.
There were a few familiar Geneva faces in the Central Hall today- Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, who played so important a part in the drafting of the League Covenant, and Dr. V. K. Wellington Koo, Chinese Ambassador to London, who was the only delegate in the hall who played an important role in that first General Assembly meeting in Geneva.
But the differences were vastly greater than the similarities. The leading place on today's program was reserved for a Socialist Prime Minister of Britain- symbolical not only of the rise of the Socialists in Britain but of the swing to the left in many parts of the Allied world.
Incidentally, the role of France today was more obscure. Overrun in this war, she was allowed to sit in on the major powers over the elections of the officers, but her role was definitely secondary.
Even the speeches today were different in tone and structure. The League opened with much talk about governments and the morals of disarmament of the sense of right and the virtue of pity. But today the British Prime Minister talked of the economic causes of war and he did not mention disarmament.
Tomorrow and Saturday the Assembly will get down to routine the work of electing chairmen of the six main Assembly committees, two vice presidents, the non-permanent members of the Security Council and thirteen of the eighteen members of the Economic and Social Council.
The election for the important post of secretary general will not take place until later. The Soviet Union favors Stanoje Simitch, Yugoslav Ambassador in Washington, for this post, but while some of the British Conservatives are beginning to talk about Anthony Eden and even Winston Churchill for the job, the trend still favors the election of Lester Pearson, Canadian Ambassador in Washington.
The Soviet Embassy said tonight that Andrei Y. Vishinsky, leader of the Russian delegation to the UNO Assembly, probably would remain in Sofia, Bulgaria, for two days and that it had no definite information as to when he would arrive in London. While he is absent from the sessions, Mr. Gromyko, the Russian's UNO expert with experience at Dumbarton Oaks, San Francisco and the executive committee and Preparatory Commission conferences here, is head of the Soviet Delegation.
With Foreign Commissar Molotoff absent, other delegates have made no secret of the fact that they would be encouraged by Mr. Vishinsky's presence.