501.BB/2–246: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations ( Stettinius ) to the Secretary of State

secret
us urgent

1275. For the President and the Secretary. At the Security Council meeting this [yesterday] afternoon, Vyshinsky30 made a series of charges against the British relative to the Greek situation. He emphasized that there were no legitimate reasons for the presence of British troops in Greece and ended by urging that the Council ask the British to withdraw these troops immediately.

Bevin answered in very forthright terms and I hope you will read [Page 105] his statement. He emphasized that British troops were in Greece at the request of the Greek Govt. Also that it was British policy to maintain security in Greece until the Greeks could work out their own political problems in their own way and in particular to make it possible to hold fair elections. He stated that British troops would be removed at the earliest possible moment.

Bevin made quite a point of the internal fight between Communists backed by Russian official propaganda and the other Greek parties and complained of the lack of friendship which the Russians were showing by their anti-British Communist propaganda all over the world. He indicated his belief that the Soviets had deeper motives in bringing the case before the Council than merely to protest against British action in Greece. He ended by asking the Council whether what the British had done endangered the peace and security of the world and insisted that he was entitled to a definite yes or no answer. He asked for a clean bill of health from the Council. (For fuller report see DelUN 202.31)

The Greek representative stated that the British troops were present in Greece with the full consent and approval of the Greek Government.32

I feel that this frank exchange of views cleared the air and sets a good precedent for future Council hearings. In view of Bevin’s strong statement and the position taken by the Greeks, it is possible that the Soviets may not press for an investigation or other action. If so, I am inclined, if Bevin agrees, to close the matter without pressing for a formal resolution dismissing the case on its merits. I think the same objective could be attained by a simple statement from the chairman approved by the Council without vote. This would give Bevin in substance his clean bill without publicly chastising the Soviet Govt. I do not believe Russians have made a sufficient case to justify investigation and will only vote for investigation if British feel it essential for their vindication. I intend to oppose any other action by the Council along the lines suggested by the Soviets as set forth above.33

I would welcome any views you may have.

Stettinius
  1. Andrey Yanuaryevich Vyshinsky, Representative of the Soviet Union at the United Nations.
  2. Telegram 1266, February 1, 1946, midnight, from London, not printed.
  3. The President of the Security Council had invited the representative of Greece to participate, without vote, in the discussions. For the official record of the proceedings of the Security Council on February 1, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, First Year, First Series, No. 1, pp. 72–90.
  4. In telegram 1171 (UNdel 163), February 2, 1946, 4 p.m., the Secretary of State set forth his agreement with the views outlined in this paragraph (501.BB/2–246).