31. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to the Under Secretary of State (Ball)1

I have been following with interest the Paris discussions on future NATO arrangements with an independent Malta and the exchanges on a possible NATO tie and presence, and I venture this personal comment on a wholly informal basis.2

Given the Cyprus experience and the fact that elements in the Maltese political picture could produce a Cyprus-like problem there, I think an effective case can be made for a NATO tie and the establishment of a NATO presence before the island is given its independence and before this matter becomes enmeshed in internal Maltese politics.

Obviously there are some legal and political problems which must be ironed out. On balance, however, I do think timing is important and that these matters should, if possible, be resolved early enough so that on September 21, the NATO tie and the NATO presence are in place. If, subsequently, difficulties do develop, NATO then will be in position to deal with them in terms that make most sense to the West.

As our leading specialist on attractive Mediterranean islands you will, I think, appreciate this point perhaps better than anyone else—so I send this memo to you.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, NATO 6 MALTA. Secret.
  2. The question of NATO’s future relationship with Malta had been under active discussion in July and August. On July 31, Tyler sent Rusk a memorandum stating that the United States agreed with the United Kingdom that after independence it would be undesirable for the island to be either a member or an associate member of NATO. (Ibid.) On August 11, a memorandum to Ball suggested that Malta continue to be in the area subject to defense by NATO without any formal membership tie. (Ibid.) Discussions in the North Atlantic Council on July 24 and August 13 highlighted these same differences among the Alliance members, with most being dubious about a formal tie, but wanting some link to safeguard Western security interests. (Topol 267 to Paris, August 18; ibid.)