46. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Polto 1403. Subject: Restricted NAC session 10:30 am Dec 12.2 (Part 1 of 23) Ismay referred to Council agreement on security, mentioned leaks in press this morning, and asked for advice as to how international staff should handle situation. There was no response.

Averoff (Greece) then said he had few comments to make regarding Menderes’ statement yesterday:4 (1) On Balkan Pact he quoted from Belgrade communiqué5 regarding desire of Yugoslavia and Greece for just solution of Cyprus question by peaceful means. He sincerely hoped that differences between Turkey and Greece could be resolved so that pact between them could again become operative. [Page 135] He objected to Menderes’ use of term propaganda regarding his comments on Cyprus. Greece had referred this issue to UN only after its efforts for fair solution within NATO and otherwise had failed. Greece felt that it had been very restrained on its handling of matter and had taken all efforts for conciliation with UK and Turkey. Only response had been criticism in Commons and threats in Cyprus. Greece still desires just and peaceful solution. (2) In regard Cyprus Greek Govt was only fulfilling its moral obligation to Greek Cypriots so as to avoid other countries such as Syria exploiting situation. Strong measures in Cyprus have inflamed situation. Cypriots cannot understand why their fight for freedom should be considered as banditry and treated with brutality. Greek Govt will continue support Cypriot people but will take full account interests of others. It is not asking for any right of veto on decision of Cypriots. If Greeks insist on veto Arabs, seeking intervene, will assert same right and will seek neutralize Cyprus with support of Soviet and Afro-Asian Bloc.

Menderes (Turkey) replied Greek statement was not helpful in fostering greater NATO unity which was purpose of meeting and which so vital security of all. Since Cyprus was before UN he had not meant discuss it but forced reply. Omitting history or details, he wished know: was Greece willing put Cyprus question in hands of NATO and withdraw it from UN? Re Balkan Pact he was sorry Greeks no longer relied on it since Turkey felt it could reinforce NATO. Did pact now embrace only Greece and Yugoslavia?

Lloyd (Britain) said: (1) He was ready discuss Cyprus at any time but doubted now was appropriate. Two years ago he had urged Greeks handle Cyprus issue so as not jeopardize Greek-Turkish friendship but was unfortunately not heeded. (2) He refrained from replying in kind to claims of brutality. Cyprus strategic for NATO, Baghdad Pact and Turkish security. Radcliffe constitution would be step forward in keeping Britain’s good colonial record and he hoped others would wait for it and cooperate in making it effective. Ending terrorism could be first step.

Since proposal for NATO consideration Cyprus appeared in line reports of three Ministers, Martino (Chairman) asked whether three states would agree and suggested if so Council could return to it after acting on report.

Averoff (Greece), after saying frank discussion would strengthen Alliance not weaken it, said (1) Cyprus issue could not be withdrawn from UN at this late date but could be discussed in NATO before UN debate. He regretted Turks had not agreed NATO discussion in April when first proposed. (2) Greece still desired Balkan Pact which useful for its security to be on tripartite basis and considered it still in effect even though not feasible operate under present condition in [Page 136] military field or consultation except between Greece and Yugoslavia. (3) In reply UK Cypriots want self-determination which must be guiding principle. Greece has sought keep situation calm to avoid damaging incidents. He doubts Cypriots will accept plan which merely leads to future self-government.

Lloyd had thought three Ministers proposed NATO discussion before resort other agencies. While not objecting NATO discussion, he thought that might await publishing Radcliffe constitution which should be promptly considered by Turkey and Greece. Pearson (Canada) suggested issue be postponed for present. Leaks of security meetings on Suez have already impaired efforts repair damage recent weeks. Leaks on Cyprus would now do even more damage. Martino strongly urged secrecy on Cyprus discussion and suggested it might be taken up again after action on three Ministers’ report on disputes.

Lloyd (Britain) asked for comments some of “loose ends” Middle East where NATO members should try reach common policy taking advantage existing chances for progress. Main question was how make progress on Arab-Israel dispute which was basic. Might try get de-militarized zone Sinai and UN administration Gaza and Israel-Arab frontiers since continued clashes going lead wider war. Did the Council think we should seek extend UNEF to police all Israeli borders? A common NATO policy to protect its flanks essential and return to status quo not good enough. But some parties who welcomed UN action so far will oppose efforts settle this dispute. Pearson (Canada) agreed it will consider future in Middle East seeking agree on things which could be reflected in communiqué. General Assembly which now in charge also not especially suited for task. Has acted well so far and should now seek political settlement. We should realize previous failure of Security Council to solve issue largely fault permanent members. UNGA cannot substitute for wise policies members aimed at solution. We must realize UN action here will establish its right intervene other areas.

Might we agree on how make UN action effective by using UNEF not only secure cease-fire but facilitate political settlement?

Many difficulties and doubts remain regarding UNEF. Its functions are unclear; extension such as Lloyd proposes would take further UN action. Control of force not clear but should certainly not rest with any one country especially one where it is operated. The question of its composition easily settled but that of duration is not.

NATO Council was not charged with Middle East settlement and should take position as such but members can pursue common policy in UN. They should back up UNEF to assure its success. We should also support solution Suez in conformity six principles and use UNEF if necessary keep peace along Canal while issue being settled. Should also start machinery for Arab-Israeli settlement although [Page 137] bound take time, perhaps beginning with Gaza Strip and Sinai Corridor.

Also hoped US, UK and France could coordinate their policies. Recent events show US action essential but reverse also true.

Hopes communiqué can indicate members’ agreement policy Middle East. Even though not direct NATO responsibility in view its relation NATO interests essential show stand together there in future. If three Ministers’ report adopted, he hoped NATO members would consult and coordinate on all matters which would result in success UN action. End Part 1.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/12–1256. Confidential. Approved by Bowie and transmitted in two sections. Repeated to the other NATO capitals and Moscow.
  2. The summary, C–R(56)71, and verbatim, C–VR(56)71, records of this session, both dated December 12, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 826.
  3. The second part of this summary of the restricted session, Polto 1404, is not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 740.5/12–1356)
  4. See Document 43.
  5. Reference is to the communiqué issued in Belgrade on September 14, 1956, by Tito at the conclusion of the official visit to Yugoslavia by King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece.