President John F Kennedy

Only a man of vision can recognise another man of vision. Only a man of promise can recognise another man of promise. Only a man of concern can recognise another man of concern

President John F Kennedy saw in U Thant a sun of wisdom-light. President Kennedy discovered in U Thant a colossal achievement.

In a telegram, President Kennedy declared: “The election of His Excellency U Thant is a splendid achievement in which the whole world can rejoice.

“Please express the congratulations of the United States Government to the United Nations membership for their action in electing so distinguished a diplomat to succeed the late Dag Hammarskjöld.

“In preserving the integrity of the office of the Secretary-General, they have reaffirmed their dedication to the UN Charter… As he [U Thant] begins one of the world’s most difficult jobs, he has our confidence and also our prayers.”

Mr Zenon Rossides, Ambassador of Cyprus to the United Nations, described President Kennedy’s response to U Thant’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis: “The most dangerous of all crises since the Second World War was resolved in a manner that prompted President Kennedy to say, ‘U Thant has put the world deeply in his debt.’ ”