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UN's Waldheim: his own successor?

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Who will succeed Kurt Waldheim at the helm of the United Nations come to end of 1981? The answer to this question, which is asked and whispered about more than any other at UN headquarters now, may well be . . . Kurt Waldheim.

The main argument advanced in UN corridors in favor of reelecting Mr. Waldheim has to do with the present turbulence in world politics.

Cool heads believe that with the possibility of new wars, and of rising tensions everywhere, the time is not ripe for experimenting. As seen here, the need now is for careful, adroit, experienced, cool diplomacy.

"Numerically, demographically, morally, the third world may be very important indeed, but in terms of the actual balance of power in the world, the most neutral point between Washington and Moscow, politically, is still Austria and not Tanzania or Argentina." says one analyst.

The issue of who will be the new secretary-general may well overshadow most other issues at UN headquarters this fall. Mr. Waldheim's second mandate expires at the end of the year. He has let it be known that he would be available to serve for a third term if asked to do so by the world community.

The only official candidate at the present time is Tanzania's foreign minister, Salim Salim, who has received the support of the Organization of African Unity.

Some candidates from Latin America are lurking in the wings and hoping to run away with the prize should a stalemate develop between Salim Salim and Kurt Waldheim. They are Carlos Ortiz de Rosas from Argentina, Alexander Orfila, the secretary of the OAS [Organization of American States] also from Argentina, and Jorge Castaneda, Mexico's foreign minister. They are not backed by the Latin American group and are considered to be at best dark horses.

While Mr. Waldheim's succession poses very tricky diplomatic problems, conventional Wisdom has it that in the end the secretary-general will succeed himself.

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