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

1184. For President and Secretaries of State and Defense. From Under Secretary.2

After a day of meetings with the British headed by Duncan Sandys and a meeting with Kyprianou, the Cypriot Foreign Minister, I have formed some tentative views of the overall situation.
I am meeting today in Athens with our Ambassadors to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. The discussions at these meetings may lead me to modify these impressions. Subject to this caveat, however, this is how I see our position emerging at the moment:
The US should not put troops in Cyprus even as a minority component of an international force. The anti-American feeling in Cyprus stirred up by the Communists—and probably by Makarios himself—would tend to make our troops a special target. This is one situation from which we should seek to stand down.
But I do not propose to announce this position as settled US policy. We have from the first made clear that we would consider participating in an international force only if all parties wanted it. I am accumulating evidence that Makarios does not want it. Wilkins, our Amb in Cyprus, thinks that an American component would be a bad idea. His views are shared by Pickard, the British High Commissioner in Nicosia.
If I were to make it clear now that we were not prepared to participate, it would:
Give the British a chance to get off the hook;
Alienate the Turks and tempt them to move unilaterally against Cyprus—which could start a Greco-Turkish war;
Destroy the effectiveness of our influence while strengthening Makarios’ efforts in the UN to bring in the neutralists and the bloc.
I plan, therefore, to let the logic of our situation emerge from the accumulating facts, thus leading naturally to an international force without a US component. At the same time I shall take steps to keep the Turks from exploding.
I hope to work this out over the next four days. Today I shall finish conversations with our three Ambassadors and with the Greeks. [Page 979] Tuesday3 I shall try to prepare the Turks for a UN force. Wednesday, I shall give the word to Makarios and vice versa.
Thursday I plan to consult with the British in London and return to Washington.

As I see it, this activity should—if successful—pave the way for an international force without US participation.

This force would be agreed to before presentation to the Security Council. It should contain units from the UK, the Benelux and Scandinavian countries, and possibly Canada. It would be under British command, would be approved by the Security Council, but would not be under the direction of the UN. Nor would it be financed by the UN, since all participating countries would be required to pay their own way.

The course of action I have outlined must be measured against the following emerging facts:
The British want us in badly, but they are beginning to see the difficulties involved for us in participating in an allied peacekeeping force. My impression is they will have to settle very reluctantly for an international force linked to though not under control of the Security Council.
I am beginning to doubt that Cyprus wants any peacekeeping force. Makarios’ primary objective is beginning to stand out in sharp relief. He hopes to involve the UN in a political settlement designed eventually to change the present constitutional setup. His representatives are now talking about a two phase operation in the SC. They want the Council to go on record for the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus. They pretend that they wish to have the Council get into the question of a peacekeeping force at a later stage. But it has become clearer that they do not want US in, and I expect that Makarios will confirm this fact.
The Turkish, of course, are a major problem. They have put great store on US participation. We have got to let them down easily in order to keep lid on the situation. I propose to stress with them the Cypriot opposition to our participation—while putting the best possible face on some modest UN force as a supplement to the present UK, Turk and Greek contingents in Cyprus in which our contribution might be limited to an airlift. At the same time, I do not believe we should encourage augmentation of Turkish and Greek forces since this would only exacerbate Makarios’ ire and trouble.
I shall try to place on Makarios’ shoulders the primary onus for our non-participation.
Although I share Sandys’ views that “Cyprus question is insoluble” at least in foreseeable future, the possibility of a moderate UN peacekeeping force with a close link to UN may buy all of us some highly useful time. This I shall endeavor to achieve.
But it will require hazardous operation of walking on eggs with golf shoes.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 CYP. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Passed to the White House, JCS, OSD, CIA, USUN, and CINCEUR and CINCSTRIKE also for POLADs.
  2. For documentation on Ball’s missions, January–June 1964, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVI, Documents 1 ff.
  3. February 11.