391. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State0

872. Paris for Finletter and SACEUR. Deptel 623.1 Saw Foreign Minister Erkin this morning to deliver reply to Turkish “conditions”.

Without attempting debate crew question Erkin said very disappointed we unable to agree to some sort of formula which would associate Polaris with Turkish Command. Said he under constant pressure and criticism by those who maintain that substitution of Polaris for Jupiter represents indication of reduced American interest in Turkey and that, when he attempts rebut such allegations, he is told that he is just saying what they would expect from a Foreign Minister and that his critics therefore remain unconvinced.

While I recalled that fact is this is important move toward modernization in Mediterranean by which NATO generally and Turkey specifically will benefit, Erkin said he understood but this was not sort of argument that convinces critics. Problem is essentially psychological and something more obviously demonstrable required than visits to Turkish ports or visits Turkish officers to Polaris subs.

I then suggested that, aside from continuing to point out that Polaris substitution is strengthening move, public relations line to counteract current criticism should be given positive twist by putting emphasis on multilateral force in which NATO partners, including Turkey, will in fact be given opportunity for different types of participation, including mixed manning. Erkin somewhat grudgingly agreed but still maintained something more tangible regarding Polaris would help out a great deal.

I also requested as instructed that care be exerted to avoid any leak that Command question had even been discussed. Erkin said he absolutely agreed but had been distressed to note that there had in fact been such a reference in yesterday’s Aksam. He was at loss know how it had happened and I feel quite certain his unhappiness was not feigned.

We next turned to 104–G’s and I transmitted supplemental information as instructed. Erkin said understood in certain Turkish quarters that original fourteen would be additional to two squadrons programmed and he would appreciate my inquiring if this correct. I replied unnecessary do so since I had knowledge that what we are doing is to respond to oft-repeated request of Turkish Air Force to expedite delivery of programmed planes; not question of expanding program at this [Page 754] point. Any such discussion would have to take its place in normal context of MAP procurement.

Erkin then noted with approval that US training group being held for quick assignment to Turkey and asked if they would bring training planes with them since 104–G’s would not be arriving until later. I said uninformed of details but assumed training group would have what necessary to perform their function competently.

I then noted that we had received letter from Minister Defense Sancar for transmission to Secretary Defense McNamara, asked if Erkin familiar with it and, if so, whether there was anything of significance in it which might have bearing on our discussions. Erkin said had read it and would send me copy. Regarding contents, he said nothing of importance going beyond what already communicated to us previously. In this connection he heartily endorsed idea of single channel of communication henceforth.

Foreign Minister then asked what next to be done, mentioning presumed necessity of agreement to remove Jupiters to replace existing agreement. I said this also my understanding and also necessary supplement informal advice to NAC on January 30 by joint written communication. However, what is essential at this stage is clearly to establish that we are in agreement on the basis of our proposals as explained and supplemented today. Once this done, we could start wheels moving in respect formalities and also practical implementation and sooner this can be done the better.

To this Erkin replied he assumed “we will have to accept” but he would have to consult Prime Minister first and would hope give me definitive answer some time next week. I took precaution of inquiring whether prospective reply would be definitive governmental position, referring in that connection to Sancar letter. Erkin said it would be governmental position.

Later Erkin telephoned to say had acquainted Prime Minister Inonu with our discussion and would brief Turkish General Staff Monday, being himself occupied tomorrow by presentation budget to Parliament. Indicating also he had had some military contact he asked that 104–G training team come immediately and be sure to bring trainer planes since would be unable operate effectively otherwise. I suggested best reach definitive basic decision first and then proceed action phase. However, I would advise Washington of GOT interest in expediting training team in order that they might be alerted for action. Erkin said felt no doubt as to outcome and would expect give me final reply shortly after meeting with TGS.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 12 Tur. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Rome and Paris.
  2. Document 389.