350. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Greece 1

86871. 1. King Constantine telephoned to Secretary at 9 a.m. EST December 19 to report that messenger Ch. Potamianos returning to Athens. King’s views were that there should be firm date for plebiscite on constitution and date for elections set by the junta. Constitution was not an issue because he did not know what was in it. He had to insist on precise dates.

2. King expressed hope US would not recognize GOG unless he returns as safeguard that things will be implemented. He hoped UK and others would also put pressure on GOG using means at their command.

3. He said he was considering possibly going back without further negotiation. (Comment: This brainstorm may have grown out of his talk with Caramanlis and others who have advised him to go back before it was too late.)

4. Secretary did not comment on this idea. He also did not commit himself concerning King’s request to link US recognition with King’s return to Greece, saying that question would require study.

5. King concluded conversation by stating he would not be making press statement today.

6. We have reviewed carefully question of US-Greek relations and do not want to get into the middle in negotiating question of King’s possible return. Obviously the Greek Government is in the driver’s seat and not ready to pay much of a price, if any, for King’s return. At same time we want to strike a blow with Greek regime for principles of early plebiscite on constitution and a firm commitment concerning elections. We want to use leverage of US relationship with Greece in current circumstances [Page 716] to maximum degree as an additional tool in achieving our basic goal of bringing Greece back to democratic life as soon as possible, irrespective of what King may decide to do.

7. We would like you to get in touch informally and quietly with Papadopoulos or Pattakos (rather than Pipinelis as suggested Athens 4175 [2859]).2 Say that current developments have complicated for us our relations with Greece, but that this was already difficult for basic reasons which remain a serious obstacle to the kind of relations we would like to have with a NATO partner and traditional friend. We see little chance for a satisfactory relationship until progress is made on removing these problems, which can be described in general as the continuing lack of convincing movement toward the restoration of a constitutional situation. Involved are such issues as firm and early dates for a plebiscite on the constitution and elections, restrictions on the press, and the resolution of political prisoner cases in accordance with due process of law. Add that the strength of opinion of the American people and their elected representatives on these issues prevents the USG from having a normal relationship with Greece, and that accordingly we are anxious to see Greece make decisive progress toward constitutionality.

8. If you are asked whether the US intends to recognize the GOG, you should say that no decision has been taken pending clarification status of King; you should leave no doubt that basic problem for us continues to be undemocratic nature of regime itself. FYI. We prefer leave situation imprecise for awhile, although we recognize contact with Papadopoulos or Pattakos might be considered a step toward recognition; we hope it can be done in a manner to minimize such an interpretation.3 End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 30 GREECE. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Rockwell and Brewster, cleared by Battle and Katzenbach, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Telegram 2859 from Athens, December 20, recommended that the King make no statement until Ambassador Talbot had sounded out Pipinelis on future relations between Constantine and the Junta. (Ibid., POL 23–9 GREECE)
  3. In telegram 2892 from Athens, December 20, Talbot reported that he had been unable to secure a meeting with Papadopoulos and suggested delaying further efforts while awaiting further moves by the King and the Junta. (Ibid.)