12. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Situation in Cyprus


  • British
    • Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Prime Minister of Great Britain
    • R.A. Butler, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
    • Sir David Ormsby Gore, British Ambassador
    • Sir Harold Caccia, Permanent Under Secretary, Foreign Office
    • N. Henderson, Private Secretary to Mr. Butler
    • Tom Bridges, Second Private Secretary to Mr. Butler
    • Denis Greenhill, Minister, UK Embassy
    • M. Hadow, Press Secretary, Foreign Office
  • US
    • The President
    • The Secretary of State
    • Governor Harriman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
    • David K.E. Bruce, Ambassador to Great Britain
    • McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • William R. Tyler, Assistant Secretary, EUR
    • Richard I. Philips, Director, P/ON
    • M. Gordon Knox, Deputy Director, BNA

Secretary Rusk reviewed the situation in Cyprus. He pointed out that Archbishop Makarios had seemed willing to see a peace-keeping force composed not of troops from NATO states (except for the UK), but from the Commonwealth and from nations like Sweden. Mr. Butler remarked that the idea of such an alternative force was hopeful. Secretary Rusk said that Mr. Ball would see Makarios again the morning of the 14th. Meanwhile, reports of heavy fighting in the southern part of the island were disturbing, however, and Secretary Rusk stated that Mr. Ball would proceed on the 14th to Ankara to counsel prudence to the Turkish government.

Mr. Butler remarked that the Cypriot government would surely bring the issue before the Security Council and the Cypriot delegate, Rossides, would introduce a resolution. If it were unreasonable, the British and the US could be negative and would have the votes. If the resolution were reasonable and two-sided, we could be reasonable about it.

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Secretary Rusk remarked that the best and most likely kind of resolution which would get a majority at the Security Council was one of the “don’t fight, talk” resolutions which are customary in the Security Council under circumstances such as now prevail in Cyprus. The US and UK could back such a resolution in order to head off other ones of the sort the Cypriot government would want. Namely, one to cast a shadow on the Treaty of Guarantee.

Sir Alec doubted that Makarios can control matters in Cyprus any longer. He hoped that Canada would continue to be one of the states making up the peace-keeping force.

Secretary Rusk referred to the fact that the Turks, Greeks and British have forces on the island by right; this could be a concept which could be used to keep Makarios from calling in forces from Egypt or the Soviet Bloc, for example, which have no right on the island.

Sir Alec supposed that if the Turkish army invaded Cyprus, the British government would call on it to stop at a certain line. The British forces certainly would not fight a NATO ally.

The President suggested that it would be important to have the Turkish and Greek armies agree not to fight each other, should their governments decide to send forces to occupy portions of Cyprus. It would also be desirable that each side should protect the other’s minority population. He recalled that Queen Frederika of Greece had told him during her recent visit to Washington that the Greek Army would move to Cyprus if the Turkish Army did.2

He then asked Sir Alec what motivates Makarios.

Sir Alec called Makarios a stinker of the first water. He wants a central government in Cyprus which would rob the Turkish minority of its rights. Makarios seemed to rely on a Soviet promise that it will keep the Turks from invading the island.

Sir Harold Caccia stated that any action of this sort by Russia against Turkey would bring NATO into action.

Mr. Rusk observed that this was a matter of extreme danger. Before there would be a response to a Soviet action affecting the Soviet-Turkish border the question would be in the Security Council.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149. Secret. Drafted by Knox and approved in S on February 20 and in the White House on February 24. The meeting was held in the White House. The source text is marked “Part I of II.” Prime Minister Home visited the United States February 12–14.
  2. Queen Frederika visited Washington on January 27. Her comments on Cyprus were reported in a memorandum from Komer to the President, January 27. (Johnson Library National Security File, Country File, Greece, Vol. 1)