280. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Secretary of State1

2458. Reference: Department telegram 2470, April 1.2 I believe time has come give urgent consideration to inviting Marshal Papagos visit United States near future. In addition internal political factors mentioned previous telegrams recent international developments make it highly important that we dramatize through Papagos visit United States-Greek solidarity and latter’s relation to Western strength in this area. Fact that news regarding suspension of Tymbakion airbase3 coincided with speculation over forthcoming Soviet visit Belgrade4 and related talk about neutralism has left unfortunate impression in some circles here regarding United States’ intentions Greece.

Appreciate and agree with view that it may be difficult disassociate Papagos visit entirely from aid question, but believe this should not be considered as overriding factor. Decision regarding special aid for Volos disaster (Embassy telegram 2386, May 115) prior to visit would tend minimize aid aspect. In any event, we must face fact that United States aid to Greece next fiscal year will represent drastic reduction and will be compared by Greeks unfavorably with United States aid program in such neighboring countries as Italy and Turkey. Properly exploited Papagos visit could offset to some extent almost inevitable adverse repercussions.

As we seem to be entering period during which we may begin to reap some positive fruits from our policy of strength, it would seem prudent to bear in mind need to avoid weakening existing position and to give appropriate recognition to those who have made a significant contribution thereto. Greece is symbol United States post-war decision stand firm against Soviet Communist expansionism and has been a practical bulwark in that endeavor since 1947. I can imagine no better time than at present to call attention to this fact than by Presidential invitation to Marshal Papagos to visit United States to discuss matters of mutual concern between our two [Page 538] countries. Appreciate that your schedule and that of President may make mid-September earliest possible date for actual Papagos visit. However, announcement in days immediately ahead that invitation has been received will serve constructive purposes outlined this message.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 781.5–MSP/5–2055. Confidential.
  2. Telegram 2470 informed the Embassy at Athens that although “sympathetic consideration” had been given to the idea of inviting Papagos, the Department could not extend an invitation at this time. (Ibid., 033.8111/4–155)
  3. In May the United States decided not to proceed with the construction of a proposed airbase at Tymbakion on Crete. Documentation on the airbase issue and Greek reaction to the cancellation is ibid., 711.56381.
  4. Reference is to Khrushchev’s visit to Belgrade, May 27–June 2.
  5. Telegram 2386 transmitted Cannon’s recommendations on U.S. assistance for earthquake relief. (Department of State, Central Files, 411.8141/5–1155)