Athens Embassy files, lot 59 F 48, 53

No. 446
President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Papagos 1

Dear Mr. Prime Minister: I was happy indeed to receive your thoughtful and friendly letter of April 29, 1953,2 which Mr. Markezinis brought to me. I have refrained from replying until Mr. Dulles, with whom I discussed your letter prior to his departure, could give me his impressions of his recent trip to Greece and other countries.

The sentiments you express in your letter indicate that the bonds of friendship which unite our two peoples are strong and enduring. It is a matter of particular pride and comfort to know that a people with the glorious history and achievement of the Greeks stand resolutely at the side of the American people and face with them the problems which confront the free world today. Your understanding of these problems makes it clear that Greece is fortunate to have such a leader as yourself as the head of her Government.

I understand Mr. Dulles discussed with you in Athens, in the light of the present truce negotiations, your generous offer to recommend an increase in the number of Greek troops now fighting in Korea at the side of their United Nations allies. As I indicated to Mr. Markezinis, our awareness of your efforts to place the economy of your country on a sound footing makes us all the more appreciative of your willingness to increase your own burden in Korea. On behalf of the United States, which bears the responsibility for the Unified Command in Korea, I accept this offer. I am informed that the Department of State will communicate with representatives of your Government in order to make the necessary arrangements for utilizing additional troops in Korea.

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I believe that your intention to maintain Greek armed forces at their present strength, and to increase them if necessary, is a very wise decision. Although, as you note in your letter, there is much talk of peace, I have repeatedly said that we must not permit such talk to deceive us. We are far from certain that the originators of this peace talk intend to back up their words by deeds, and my frank opinion is that only a strong military posture on our side will induce them to do so. I therefore welcome your assurance that the fine fighting forces of Greece, whose valor has been praised since the earliest days of history, will be kept intact.

I deeply appreciate the considerations which have led you to offer to recommend that your King and Government accept a proposal for base rights for American armed forces in Greece. It is gratifying to receive this further evidence of the acute awareness of the Greek nation to the threat to the free world and this demonstration of its willingness to continue to contribute to the collective effort to prevent aggression. We are now studying the requirements for base rights in support of NATO plans and your generous offer will be considered in this connection. When this study has been completed we shall be in a position to explore this matter further with you.

I wish also to express to you my thanks for the fact that your Government is making common cause with us in our efforts to secure closer collaboration among our European allies. Like you, I am a firm believer in the old adage that in unity there is strength, and I would like at this point to praise the wisdom and statesmanship of your Government in pursuing and achieving a pact with your friendly neighbors which adds much to the common security in southeastern Europe. The determination with which your Government followed this aim deserves the highest praise, especially when considered in the light of recent history. Under an enlightened leadership, Greece cannot fail to play an increasingly important role in world affairs. Certainly, as matters stand, she is a beacon of hope to all lovers of freedom.

I extend to you and to Mrs. Papagos the very best personal wishes of Mrs. Eisenhower and myself. We hope and pray that God will continue to bless the great work you have undertaken in behalf of your country.

Sincerely,

Dwight D. Eisenhower
  1. Drafted by Porter and cleared with Baxter, Jernegan, Wainhouse, Wolf, Nolting, and Nash (Defense). Transmitted to Dulles with a covering memorandum, June 2, by Byroade, and then forwarded to Eisenhower with a covering memorandum, June 4, by Dulles. (611.81/6–253) A covering letter, June 5, by Dulles instructed Peurifoy to emphasize to Papagos that acceptance of additional Greek troops for Korea did not commit the United States to provide additional economic assistance to Greece. When Peurifoy delivered Eisenhower’s letter on June 11, he pointed out that the prospective $20 million economic assistance for Greece in fiscal year 1954 referred only to new money and that Greece, with a very large pipeline of goods purchased with American funds, would have much more aid available in the coming fiscal year than was suggested by the new aid figure. The Embassy in Athens reported that Papagos seemed quite satisfied with the prospective level of economic assistance. (Despatch 1444 from Athens, June 15; 781.5 MSP/6–1553)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 439.