50. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

12335. Subj: Diego Garcia. Ref: State 195858 (Notal).2

FonOff has finally ejected its long-awaited reply to our demarche of July 5 on US-proposed project for Diego Garcia. Text FonOff’s letter being pouched Department by airgram.3 Substance of British reply as follows:
HMG prepared to agree to proposed USG development of a facility on Diego Garcia, on understanding that
Normal British participation will be provision of one or more liaison officers, and UK flag flying over facility;
British naval ships and military aircraft shall have full rights of access to facility at all times under arrangements to be mutually agreed;
Administrative details of project will need to be subject of detailed negotiations before construction is due to begin. These negotiations will encompass use of Mauritian and Seychellois labor, and question of resettlement of migrant population. Brooke Turner suggests two possibilities might be considered: Removal of population altogether [Page 117] to some locale outside territory, or onto other islands in Chagos group. In order approach this question, FonOff wishes to know US views on whether all should move, or whether some of them will be offered employment, during and after construction phase. FonOff also wishes further info about eventual size of facility, and which, if any, of other islands in Chagos group might be required for further development.
Most difficult question likely to be how and when to make project public knowledge: It will clearly be necessary for both govts to concert closely over this. It is essential to preclude unfavorable reactions by Govts of India and Mauritius by taking them into our confidence before there is any possibility of project becoming publicly known or rumored. UKUN would prefer no public announcement before end of coming session of General Assembly.
Brooke Turner, presumably in prudence as well as courtesy, has appended copy of draft report by Dr. Stoddart on conservation at Diego Garcia. Essences synopsized in earlier Embassy reporting, but briefly recapitulated, recommend that before development of DG Atoll proceeds, further study take place by qualified entomologist, and that access to three small islets at mouth of lagoon be limited and that these be considered nature preserves.
We hope to be able to pass Department’s thinking re points 2(C) and 2(D) in due course.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15 IND-US. Secret. Repeated to CNO, CSAF, Nairobi, Port Louis, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCSTRIKE, and DOD for OSD/ISA.
  2. Document 49.
  3. Airgram A-4507, September 5. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 15 IND-US)