No. 361
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs (Baxter)1



  • Request of British Government for U.S. Support on the Cyprus Question


  • UNP—Mr. Mangano
  • UND—Mr. Ross
  • EUR—Mr. Allen
  • BNA—Mr. Hamilton
  • NEA—Dr. Howard
  • GTI—Mr. Baxter
  • GTI—Miss Crain

A preliminary meeting of Departmental officers was held in Mr. Baxter’s office to discuss a recent Aide-Mémoire from the British Embassy2 which requests: (1) assurances that the United States continues to share the British view that joint strategic interests of both countries demand the maintenance of the present status of Cyprus; (2) confirmation that the United States will continue to discourage the Greek Government from pressing its claims to Cyprus; and (3) agreement to inform the Greek Government that the United States would oppose placing the Cyprus question on the agenda of the General Assembly or its discussion by the UN.

It was pointed out that there was genuine sentiment for union of Cyprus with Greece in both places, although it was more vociferously expressed at some times than at others. It was also noted that the UK has vital military interests there (as has the US also) and has taken the position that it will not even discuss a change in the constitutional status of Cyprus through diplomatic channels.

It was agreed that before answering the Aide-Mémoire we should obtain the views of the Department of Defense on the strategic importance of Cyprus to the United States and wait for replies to the requests Mr. Baxter had sent to Athens and Nicosia for comprehensive reports on current developments in the Enosis issue.

It was the consensus of the meeting that the first point raised by the British would probably be answered in the affirmative, subject to the views of the Department of Defense. It was also tentatively agreed that we would accede to the second request of the British, to [Page 680] discourage Greece from seeking consideration of the Enosis problem by the UN. With respect to the third point, it was felt that we could not at this time commit ourselves to a course of action in the UN, nor as to how we would vote if the necessity to do so should arise.

Some consideration was given to the suggestion that we need not necessarily limit ourselves to answering the specific points raised by the British, but might in addition ask what, if anything, they intended to do in the way of increased self-government for the Cypriots, and perhaps indicate our belief that such measures could usefully be taken. It was decided to explore this idea and to formulate specific measures along these lines.

The possibility was also discussed of whether the Turks might use their influence on the Greek Government to dissuade the latter from pressing its claim or from raising the issue in the next meeting of the United Nations. Although Turkey has tried to dissociate itself as much as possible from agitation on the Cyprus question, it has firmly stated its intention of being heard if the status of Cyprus should change, basing its interest on the large Turkish minority in the island. Now that close ties exist between Greece and Turkey, the Turkish Government might be able to exert a helpful influence on its neighbor.

  1. Crain was coauthor of this memorandum of conversation.
  2. Dated Jan. 28, not printed, but outlined here. (747C.00/1–2854)