No. 385
The Secretary of State to Prime Minister Churchill1


Dear Sir Winston: The President received your message of September 182 while in the Colorado hills, and phoned me about it, particularly regarding the question of Cyprus, on which he asked me to write you at once. Let me say first that we fully share your view that, on the merits of the case, it would seem to be highly desirable to avoid discussion or action in the United Nations. We full appreciate the distress and difficulties which any such discussion would create for you in the General Assembly, and we ourselves are not unconcerned. However, the question as to how to vote on inclusion of this matter on the agenda poses an exceedingly difficult problem for us because of our traditional liberal view of the relevant charter provisions and because we have consistently and publicly adhered to the principle of the right of discussion in the General Assembly. We fought very hard for this at San Francisco in the face of Soviet opposition.

Also involved are our relations with Greece as well as our own public and political opinion.

To make things doubly difficult, I learn that our intention to abstain has been made known to the Greek Government and to others as well. In fact, it almost impossible for us now actually to vote against inscription. Even to abstain, which we shall do, stretches our principles. We have talked this over with Roger Makins.3 We shall quietly let it be known, particularly to the prospective [Page 716] members of the general committee, that we very much dislike the prospect of a discussion of the Cyprus question at this time. That may have sufficient effect on some of the members, so that the result might prevent inscription. I am about to discuss this with Dixon and Hopkinson of your delegation.4 Also, as far as consistent with our abstention, we shall in our statement in the general committee discourage development of the item.5 If the vote in the committee is adverse to inscription, which now seems possible, we shall then vote in the plenary to uphold the action of the general committee in excluding the item from the agenda.6 Finally, if the item is included on the agenda, we shall actively oppose the passage of any resolution and will do all possible to keep any discussion to the absolute minimum.

Faithfully yours,

Foster Dulles
  1. The source text is an enclosure to Document 401.
  2. Document 382.
  3. No memorandum of that conversation between Dulles and Makins has been found in Department of State files. A memorandum of conversation by Brig. Gen. C. Stanton Babcock, Counselor of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, to Lodge, Sept. 15, stated that Key telephoned Babcock that morning to inform him that Dulles was informing Makins that morning of the U.S. decision to abstain on the question of inscribing the Cyprus item on the agenda. (USUN files, Cyprus—1950–August 1955) A memorandum of conversation at the Secretary’s staff meeting by Walter K. Scott, Director of the Executive Secretariat, Sept. 20, stated that in his talk with Acting Secretary Smith on Sept. 18, “Ambassador Makins stated that the British heard that we planned to abstain on the question of placing the Cyprus matter on the UN agenda. On the Greek Cyprus petition, the British now felt that the matter was touch and go. They would like us, if we find it necessary to abstain, to at least let it be known discreetly that we hope the matter did not come up for debate. General Smith stated that he felt favorably toward this request and expected to talk to the Secretary about it upon his return.” (Secretary’s Staff Meetings, lot 63 D 75, “Minutes 1954–1955”)
  4. A memorandum of this conversation is in file 747C.00/9–2154.
  5. This statement has not been further identified.
  6. A memorandum of conversation with Dulles by Lodge, Sept. 22, stated that Dulles “said that his statement should be interpreted as meaning that we should vote to support the full report of the General Committee en bloc but that if the issue is drawn on Cyprus by itself in the Plenary session, then we should continue to abstain”. Dulles and Lodge “agreed to take a fresh look at the whole matter if the unexpected happened and the Cyprus matter was not inscribed in the General Committee.” (747C.00/9–2254)