445. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cyprus


  • U.K.
    • Sir David Ormsby Gore, British Ambassador
    • Christopher Everett, Second Secretary, British Embassy
  • U.S.
    • The Acting Secretary
    • John D. Jernegan, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
    • William C. Burdett, Deputy Assistant Secretary, EUR

The Acting Secretary gave the British Ambassador a copy of our counterproposal for a peace keeping force in Cyprus. He said he had requested David Bruce to make a copy available in London.2

The Ambassador observed that we were sticking to the mediator. The Acting Secretary replied that we recognized the disability under which the British labored in keeping the peace because of the burden of history. The same disability applied to British ability to make the peace. This was especially true in so far as the Turks were concerned. The Turks were convinced the UK favored Greece. The US did not want to become tied in through a troop commitment when we could not see [Page 955] clearly the path along which progress toward a settlement could be made. The Ambassador acknowledged the point. He had no instructions about the mediator. However, he suggested it might cause difficulty because of the rights conferred on the guarantor powers under the Zurich agreement. The UK would not object to a mediator if the London Conference were clearly stuck. There might be difficulties at home if in the first instance Britain abandoned its responsibilities. He was not sure to what extent Turkey was talking to advance its own position. Anyone trying to compose a settlement would be open to such accusations. The Acting Secretary commented that we felt a new face might help. He emphasized that obviously there was nothing in a mediator concept prejudicial to British rights in the sovereign areas. The Ambassador thought that under our concept the UK would almost certainly lose control of the negotiations at some stage. The British bases were not an issue now. However, their renunciation could become an element in any solution. The Acting Secretary stated we would not support that. It should be made clear in the mediator’s terms of reference that the sovereign areas were not affected. From the NATO point of view the sovereign areas were important. We also had our own facilities. The mediator would be from a NATO country.

The Acting Secretary noted that Sir Arthur Snelling had mentioned that Spaak once before burnt his fingers on the Cyprus problem.3 We now recalled that this occurred while Spaak was NATO Secretary General. This probably eliminated Spaak. Van Roijen would make a fine mediator. The Ambassador agreed and added that Lange was also first class.

At this point Mr. Everett entered and reported that he had received from the British Embassy a summary of telegrams from Paris and Rome. The British Ambassador had spoken informally to Couve about the peace-keeping force. Couve gave no inkling of what the French response would be if French participation were requested. He said France would wait for a formal request. When approached in Rome Saragat asked how large an Italian contingent was involved. The British Ambassador explained the magnitude of the force envisaged. Saragat mentioned one regiment as the possible Italian contribution but without commitment. He received the approach sympathetically and said he would bring it to the attention of the Prime Minister. Schroeder was at the time in Rome and the Ambassador was trying to see him.

The Ambassador inquired whether we had received a report from General Lemnitzer.4 The Acting Secretary informed him of the report.

[Page 956]

The Ambassador asked about UN aspects and the Acting Secretary said we had instructed USUN to coordinate with UKUN. The Ambassador questioned whether we could ask the Secretary General to continue keeping an observer in Cyprus. This would be difficult for him. Perhaps we should not be altogether sorry to see the UN disappear from Cyprus. It would be difficult to ride both the NATO and UN horses. The Acting Secretary agreed.

There was an inconclusive discussion about informing the Russians.

The Acting Secretary expressed doubt over the extent of Athens’ control over Makarios. The Ambassador said the British shared this doubt. Makarios was subject to many pressures. The Acting Secretary and the Ambassador agreed that the pressures ran in both directions. The Ambassador observed that the communists would exert every effort to avoid Makarios’ acceptance of a peace-keeping force. There was a discussion of what other NATO countries could bring influence to bear on Makarios. The Acting Secretary said we would ask the views of our Ambassador in Nicosia. He also mentioned the possibility of a message from the President to Makarios.

The Acting Secretary asked about approaches in other capitals. The Ambassador replied that after London had studied the proposal we would have to see what could be done with respect to Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada. The Ambassador said that Ankara would be the first obstacle. The Acting Secretary thought that the one thing which would bring Turkey around is the mediator concept.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Komer Files, Cyprus. Secret. Drafted by Burdett and approved in U on January 30.
  2. A copy of the proposal is contained in telegram 1998 to New York, January 28. (Ibid., NSC Histories, Cyprus) Bruce reported on the British response in telegram 3597 from London, January 29. (Ibid.)
  3. Reference is to Spaak’s 1958 efforts to mediate a Cyprus settlement; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, vol. X, pp. 672734.
  4. See footnote 11, Document 448.