197. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 26, 19561


  • British Request for Information regarding United States Position on Cyprus in the General Assembly


  • Sir Roger Makins, British Ambassador
  • Miss Barbara Salt, Counselor, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. C. Burke Elbrick, EUR
  • Mr. Chalmers B. Wood, GTI

Sir Roger said HMG remained anxious to avoid a Cyprus debate in the General Assembly. It was avoided last year mainly due to the decisive assistance which HMG received from the United States. Now the question had again been inscribed by Greece and there was considerable risk that there would be a damaging debate. However, if the United States were able to give HMG the same support as last year, it might be possible to avoid a debate. On the other hand, if this was not to be the US position, the debate might result in a diplomatic defeat for HMG. To avoid this HMG might put an item of its own on the Agenda to show Greece’s role in the Cyprus question. HMG had not yet decided but, if it were to inscribe such an item, it would have to do so by October 12 and would have to make its decision about ten days before October 12. Sir Roger realized this was difficult for the United States, but it was important for HMG to know since the American attitude would be decisive.

The Secretary pointed out that there had been a big change in the composition of the General Assembly which would probably result in increased support for Greece. Miss Salt agreed, although HMG had not analyzed the situation in detail. The Secretary asked if the Department had analyzed the question of our ability to prevent inscription and was told this had not been done. He pointed out to Sir Roger that the item could be submitted after October 12 as a matter of urgency and emphasized that this had been done a good many times before. Miss Salt replied HMG was thinking in terms of an indictment of the Greek Government for inciting violence on Cyprus by Athens Radio and by other means, which had occurred over a long period. It would thus be difficult to maintain that an emergency had arisen after October 12. The Secretary asked if the item could not be inscribed now in general terms. Miss Salt [Page 408] replied that, in view of Article 2(7) of the UN Charter [Intervention in Matter of Essentially Domestic Jurisdiction],2 it would have to be aimed specifically at Greece.

The Secretary said he could not now say what our position would be. Generally, our basic view on inscription was pretty liberal and last year’s decision to oppose inscription had been difficult; also, there was the practical question of how many members of the General Assembly could be persuaded. He said the Department would analyze the situation in terms of the chances of keeping the question off the Agenda. Sir Roger asked if he could receive an answer in a week or so. The Secretary said within a week he could probably go over with him our analysis of the situation as compared with that of the Foreign Office…. There might possibly be some developments in the solution of the question itself….3

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Wood.
  2. Brackets in the source text.
  3. On October 2, an addendum to this memorandum was prepared by Wood. It reads:

    “The Secretary concluded to Sir Roger that it also would not seem to be wise to campaign actively against the inscription of the Cyprus question unless there was a good chance of success since an unsuccessful effort would deplete any reserve of good will with other nations without compensating advantage.” (Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199)