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

4193. From Talbot for Under Secretary. Embtel 4189.2

Lewis Jones and I met with Sandys, Carrington and Snelling this evening. I said I had spoken with you short time ago, and you had said we morally certain Cypriots plan move on abrogation treaty today. We have strong feeling next 24 hours may be crucial and require immediate action along lines your message. There is likely be impasse in SC with subsequent quick build-up for special UNGA meeting. Hence, rapid movement on some other track necessary to forestall such development.

Sandys said HMG understands US anxieties and shares them. There is no difference between us re seriousness situation. HMG does not think that we will advance toward our common objective by calling [Page 998] guarantors meeting now. There are several difficulties. First, Greeks will refuse to attend. They have already taken a decision not to do so and will support Makarios to the hilt. Here Carrington interjected latest Brit info they will support him in going to UNGA. Sandys continued that it looks to Brits as though Greeks will henceforth support Greek Cypriots as much as Turks do Turk Cypriots. Greeks will do nothing that is not acceptable to Makarios.

Sandys thought that perhaps U Thant might ultimately still be persuaded convene such a meeting. He thought it was undesirable to allow Cypriot problem be taken off SYG’s plate. Additionally, there is problem of agenda for such meeting. He doubted that guarantors meeting would have effect suggested in Under Secretary’s letter3 of making clear to Makarios that Turks mean business. Makarios would not be attending such meeting and Greeks are not likely to make any serious effort influence him. I agreed Greeks might be difficult. However, once Bernardes has thrown in his hand and if abrogation surfaces, this might have moderating effect on their attitude.

Sandys continued that only circumstance under which guarantors meeting might be called is if Turkey clearly intends to intervene militarily. Under shadow of such a crisis, it might work.

Greeks might in that event get cold feet and cooperate.

Carrington then outlined HMG’s assessment of likely UN reaction to call for guarantors meeting. He thought this might differ from US assessment. Brits believe such call would be viewed as “ganging up” of guarantors against little GOC. Effect of this on Afro-Asians and others might precipitate precisely what we are seeking to avoid. Snelling added that such call would make situation more difficult for Brits on the ground. Greek Cypriots would see such call as precursor to intervention. They would take out their ire on Brit troops in Cyprus. Snelling also noted that latest Brit info does not suggest any advanced state of Turk readiness. Indeed, he had impression Turks were not as ready as they were two weeks ago. I suggested Turks are certain to react strongly to any abrogation statement. A guarantors meeting might not have those consequences feared by Brits, but would be useful to help hold situation.

Sandys replied that he doubted Greeks willing to participate in preparatory planning for such contingency. I said that if abrogation statement is made, Turks may be expected make clear their intentions and Greeks would face need to reconsider. Sandys reiterated HMG does not think guarantors meeting possible with any hope of success except [Page 999] in crisis conditions.

Carrington thought not much separates our two positions. It was a question of who calls meeting and when. We are both agreed meeting should not be called until after SC impasse. I noted this cld occur almost immediately. Carrington continued that HMG believes we should suggest to SYG that meeting be called at high level, whereas USG suggests HMG call meeting of guarantors. I said abrogation is key moment. If we allow it to pass without reaction, there is little we can do later to preserve treaty rights. A statement by Kyprianou on abrogation will set off chain reaction.

Sandys doubted that Cypriots will announce abrogation. They are more likely to ask SC to declare military intervention rights under treaty as inconsistent with UN Charter. Snelling observed that any such Cypriot action as announcing abrogation would be contrary to what Sandys had gotten Makarios to accept several weeks ago.

Sandys also expressed Brit concern at Makarios “respectabilizing” EOKA gangsters by putting them into police force. He expects Makarios make formal request of Brits next day or so to take a more active part in helping Cypriot police to maintain law and order. This would mean asking Brit troops assist Greeks against Turks. Brits cannot accept this. Hence, he thought a crisis might be developing in Brit relations with Makarios. I pointed out that crisis might develop along several fronts. In addition those cited by Brits, danger of situation moving to UNGA equally great and Turk reaction might be extremely serious. All of this could start in next 24 hours or so.

I recalled SYG had earlier turned down Brit suggestion call meeting of interested parties, including Makarios and Kutchuk. Carrington thought SYG might reverse his position. SYG is duty-bound to do something. I said none of us wants to see matter referred to UNGA. To do so would raise controversial question of Article 19 and voting rights.

Sandys said it hard to see what one might do at such a guarantors meeting. It would not be possible get Greeks go along with intervention. I suggested Turks might arrive with an announcement of intention to intervene. Carrington noted that former UK Amb to Turkey, Sir Bernard Burrows, believes Turks will not move unless there is another Limassol. As long as matter is before UN, Brits doubt there will be any further bloodletting in Cyprus. Once it gets out, it could start again. In response my suggestion that problem would become even more difficult for Brits if Turks move in, Carrington said emphatically it would not. Brits will not fight Turks. I said point was that if Turks moved in, then Greeks would do same which could quickly lead to collapse NATO southeastern front. If in those circumstances, Soviets threaten Turks we would have to warn Soviets and situation could quickly reach Cuba [Page 1000] confrontation proportions.

Sandys concluded conversation by reiterating Brits fully alive to danger of situation. Unfortunately, they do not see any more clearly than do other parties way out of this “haze.” He thought it might be useful to talk to SYG in advance along lines that if Turks did move, he should call summit meeting of interested parties and also tell him Brit PriMin would attend such meeting. He thought that Turks will not do anything next day or so.

Carrington noted that Caccia had called Dean in New York after my talk earlier today with Caccia. Dean had said there is no evidence Greek Cypriots will take action to abrogate treaty today. I said, nevertheless, time to save situation likely be extremely short.

Comment: I sense some difference of assessment exists between Brits and ourselves. Brits do not seem to have our concern about Cypriot intentions unilaterally to abrogate Treaty of Alliance. They are also considerably more relaxed about danger of Turk intervention. Their primary concern is increasingly difficult position of Brit troops in Cyprus which leads them to cling to UN involvement as long as possible, however, forlorn this may be.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 CYP. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Athens, Ankara, and New York and passed to the White House, JCS, OSD, CIA, and to CINCEUR and CINCSTRIKE for POLADs.
  2. Dated February 27. (Ibid.)
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVI, Document 19.