439. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

4356 Ref: London’s 3220 (USUN 9069), USUN’s 2726, 2744.2 Cyprus. Following is Dept’s preliminary thinking re UN role in Cyprus:

We can understand UK concern re their responsibility for keeping peace in Cyprus. However, we have some misgivings as to UN’s undertaking any substantial peacekeeping operation there. We have in mind current UN financial situation; fact UN already stretched thin in such operations as Congo, Yemen, UNEF; and possibility UN might have to assume a peacekeeping role in one or more other trouble spots in world today (e.g. Angola, Malaysia), where alternative peacekeeper such as British might not be available.
We note from USUN’s 2726 that Cypriot UN del Rossides said Cyprus would pay cost of UN mission even if this required “as many as 100 men.” Given size of UK military force now committed and apparently necessary to maintain peace between Greek and Turk Cypriots, and potentialities for renewed violence by trigger-happy extremists, Dept doubts 100-man UN group or even double that number would be adequate insure peace if situation deteriorates. Moreover it seems doubtful, despite Rossides statement, GOC could undertake finance UN operation of any substantial size.
Re possible Sov attitude to UN peacekeeping operation, evidence suggests they taking side of Greek Cypriots in Cyprus dispute and, thus, if Makarios favored UN peacekeeping force, might go along in Security Council. This more likely be true if cost of operation borne by interested parties and not assesed on UN membership.

UK, Greece, and Turkey have treaty obligations and direct interests in solution Cyprus problem. UK, in addition, has sovereign bases on island. As Dept has frequently emphasized, three countries have primary responsibility for Cyprus problem, and we feel should make [Page 947] every effort settle it with Cypriots, even if London conference collapses. We can, however, if situation continues to be critical, see usefulness of modest UN presence, primarily to help offer assurances of objective appraisal of situation to world community and thus be of some value in deterring military action by either Greeks or Turks in support contesting Cypriot groups. While such modest presence would not replace military contribution of UK, it might be helpful in moderating attitude all parties concerned by assuring that international spotlight will be shown immediately on any derelictions.

Dept notes (USUN’s 2744) that, according UK del New York, HMG may shortly propose joint US–UK contingency planning re UN peacekeeping force for Cyprus. We would hope, and you requested so inform UKUN and UK FonOff, that HMG will not consult others before taking matter up with US. In so doing, you may point out that we have reservations re desirability saddling UN at this time with what could become major peacekeeping operation, drawing as appropriate on foregoing.

  1. Source: Department of State, U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Subject Files, Reel 87, Frames 1161–1162. Confidential. Drafted by Paul Jones and George Moffit (UNP); cleared in NEA, EUR, and UNP; and approved by Cleveland. Also sent to USUN as telegram 1879, which is the source text, and repeated to Athens, Ankara, Nicosia, and Paris for TOPOL.
  2. Telegram 3220 from London, January 14, reported on a meeting of the British and Turkish Foreign Ministers. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 CYP) Telegram 2726 from New York, January 15, transmitted Dean’s comments on the Secretary General’s Cyprus initiatives. (Ibid.) Telegram 2744, January 16, discussed plans to put a UN force into Cyprus. (Ibid.)