780.5/1–2652: Telegram

No. 60
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Turkey1


661. Fol is round-up re MEC (re Ankara 671 Jan 262 and 710 Feb 5).3

Pres and Churchill reaffirmed agreement sponsoring powers proceed estab MEC without delay.4 Brit Gov in Morrison-Acheson exchange Oct agreed to initial location MEC hq on Cyprus though generally accepted that in long run hq shld be located Suez if possible.5 Fol this line thought, Dept suggested to Defense Dec 29 that State–Defense working grp estab US position re location, nature and complement MEC hq for which Mar–Apr wld be target date establishment.6 Defense has not yet replied.
On basis msgs recd from Turkey we have reminded Brit several times of danger offending Turks by asking them rubber-stamp US–UK, or US–UK–French proposals on MEC (Deptel 613 Jan 22 to Ankara).7
Brit Emb Wash Jan 31 handed Dept two memos re MEC.8 Substance begins: UK requested views US (French views similarly requested) on proposal there be mtg four sponsoring powers and interested Commonwealth countries Austral, NZ, So Afr take prelim steps re estab MEC through discussion form “embryo org shld take”. Suggested mtg be held London early Mar, mtg to be announced at Lisbon after Turks certain of position under SHAPE.9 Brit propose latter be assured by NATO resolution and formal assurances by three Standing Group Powers agreeing Turkey and Greece form part Carney’s Southern Command automatically upon their entry into NATO. In effect Turkey wld then be in same relation MEC as US, UK and France, i.e., NATO member collaborating, due non-NATO interests, in defense arrangements ME.
Continuing substance memos, Brit ideas re embryo MEC org (MECO) to be discussed proposed Mar mtg are: (1) Aim is estab nucleus MECO in accord Nov 10 prins10 which wld be effective org for planning defense of ME in war. (2) Since Egypt not likely be available in present circumstances, UK prepared offer Cyprus as location hq, without prejudice final location MEC hq. (3) First stage MECO shld be as planning, coordg, liaison org only, but shld be called and organized as Cmd hq since wld provide immed basis for expansion to Supreme Cmd shld war occur during embryo stage MECO. (4) While MECO will later evolve along lines para 11 Nov 10 prins into fully integrated AMEC [MEC?] with forces assigned or earmarked, it is imposs estim time and unnec consider this evolution now except allow for such eventual progress. (5) No forces placed at present under MECO. Head MECO at this stage wld not [Page 187]be called Supreme Comdr; title something like Chmn MECO and SACME-designate until org takes shape and present unsettled conditions ME resolved or greatly improved. (6) Functions MECO must closely fol those outlined Nov 10 decln. MECO shld be (a) center coop efforts for defense ME as whole (para 3 decln); (b) planning and providing ME states, on their request, assistance in form advice and training (para 5); (c) coordination requests ME states for arms and equipment (para 5); (d) make plans for wartime operations all forces in or to be introduced into area (para 6) and coordinate forces with opns adjoining NATO Cmd in Eastern Med and Asia Minor; (e) initiate ME def Liaison Office (MEDLO) as link between MECO and countries ready join in defense of area (para 7); (f) reduce existing deficiencies in operation and capacity for defense of area (para 10). (7) Brit memo states further consideration required Higher Direction MECO in polit, mil, and logistical spheres: (a) polit—discussions re method conveying polit guidance to cmd; (b) mil–ME mil comite consisting initially reps seven sponsoring powers; may have to form smaller Steering Comite; (c) logistical—supply of arms from US, UK and France may conflict with NATO, so shld be closely allied through dovetailing tripartite arms agency with NATO orgs coordinating supply production. (8) MECO shld evolve arrangements for operational coordination with adjacent NATO cmds. Substance Brit memo ends.
Brit Embs Paris, Ankara and Cairo can supply AmEmbs with text Brit memos which were drafted before Maher Govt assumed office.
Dept regards Maher’s indications he in certain circumstances willing sit down discuss Def proposals with sponsoring states important new development. It is gen agreed Egypt is key to Arab acceptance MEC; if Anglo-Egypt differences can be settled, there seems little doubt that other Arab states wld be emboldened participate at least to limited degree MEC. US has been advocating resumption quiet talks along lines Secy’s suggestion to Egypt Amb Jan 21 (Deptel 3460 Jan 22 to London, rptd Ankara 612, Paris 4236, Cairo 1053).11 When talks reach four-power proposals UK will indicate it is not empowered speak for all four sponsors re these proposals. We presume it wld be at this stage that Turks, French and US wld be brought in, or alternatively, if outcome discussions wld be jeopardized by working level mtg to consider embryo MECO, [Page 188]US, UK, France, Turkey and Commonwealth countries shld collect their thoughts with view possibility early mtg on subj. Fol Lisbon mtg, in light status Anglo-Egypt negots that time, reps US, UK, France and Turkey (if Turkey willing) shld decide whether MECO planning mtg desirable and if so where, when and what level it shld take place.
[sic] Ankara Emb in talks FonMin shld not discuss Brit approach to US prior UK making comparable approach Turks.
Cairo in comments shld include estimate effect Mar mtg sponsors on prospective Anglo-Egypt negots and comment re location such mtg.
  1. Repeated for information to London, Paris, and Cairo.
  2. See footnote 1, supra.
  3. Supra.
  4. See the minutes of the White House meeting of Jan. 8, Document 56.
  5. Regarding this exchange, see the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. v, p. 208.
  6. For the Dec. 29 letter, see ibid., p. 265.
  7. Not printed; it informed the Ambassador in Turkey the Department of State was mindful of the importance of Turkish and French views on defense proposals for the Middle East, but preferred to postpone four-power consultations until the road ahead was clearer. The Department hoped, however, that the Turks would convey through the Ambassador any general views they wished the Department to consider in advance of four-power consultation.
  8. Regarding these memoranda, see the memorandum of conversation, Document 58.
  9. Telegram 3971 to London, Feb. 8, not printed, reported the British Embassy had advised the Department of State that day that the United Kingdom had reconsidered its position since the new Egyptian Government took power and agreed with the United States that no attempt should be made at that time to fix a date for the seven-power meeting or to announce the intention to hold a meeting. (780.5/2–852)
  10. The text of the Nov. 10 principles, also known as the Paris Declaration, is printed in Department of State Bulletin, Nov. 19, 1951, pp. 817–818. For documentation on the adoption of the principles, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. v, pp. 238 ff.
  11. Not printed; it reported a conversation between the Secretary of State and the Egyptian Ambassador on Jan. 21. The Ambassador said he considered a solution to the Suez Canal problem possible if the neutral and respected United States played a role, but he expressed concern over a suggestion by Churchill that the United States, France, and Turkey introduce token forces to guard the Canal and keep traffic moving. (641.74/1–2252)