No. 372
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Byroade) to the Secretary of State1

top secret


  • Cyprus
[Page 694]


To answer a British Aide-Mémoire asking for our position on Cyprus and to attempt to persuade the Greek Government not to raise the Cyprus question at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly.2


The British Aide-Mémoire (Tab C)3 requested our support on the grounds that British sovereignty over Cyprus was of strategic importance to the United States. Our reply (Tab A)4 based in part on consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Defense (Tab D)5 states that 1) although American strategic interests no longer require a continuation of British sovereignty over Cyprus, we do not desire a change at this time, 2) that we have urged and will continue to urge the Greeks not to raise the issue in the United Nations; but that if they do we will have to balance our support of the British against our interest in the principle of self-determination. The substance of this proposed reply has already been communicated orally and informally to the British Embassy.6

We have tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Greek Government not to raise the issue in the United Nations. Greek leaders are publicly committed to do so unless the British agree to basic talks on the future sovereignty of Cyprus. This the British will not do. If the question goes to the United Nations, the Greeks may obtain considerable support from anti-colonial powers. However, they are very unlikely to obtain Cyprus.

The British have for some time offered the Cypriots a constitution which has been refused. We have informally suggested to the British and the Greeks that British authorities and representative Cypriots should start talks on the question of a mutually acceptable constitution.


That you approve the attached Aide-Mémoire (Tab A) for delivery by appropriate Department officers to representatives of the British Embassy. When delivering the Aide-Mémoire, the Department officers would stress to the British the hope that a sincere effort could be made to evolve an acceptable constitution for Cyprus.7
That you sign the enclosed letter (Tab B)8 to Foreign Minister Stephanopoulos which NEA will hand to Ambassador Politis.
  1. Drafted by Wood and cleared by Barbour and Byroade, and with Baxter. Concurrences by Phillips (who attached a memorandum, not filed with the source text) and officers in BNA were also obtained. It was transmitted to Dulles through Kitchen and Murphy.
  2. Dated Jan. 28, outlined in Document 361.
  3. Not filed with the source text.
  4. Not filed with the source text, but printed infra.
  5. Tab D, not filed with the source text, was Document 367.
  6. A memorandum of this conversation is in file 747C.00/6–2554.
  7. The source text indicates approval of this recommendation.
  8. The letter to Stephanopoulos, not filed with the source text, was signed by Dulles, July 12, but subsequently revised. For the revised text, delivered to Stephanopoulos by Cannon, July 28, see Document 375.