292. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Greece1

150171. For Ambassador from the Secretary.

Please inform Prime Minister Papadopoulos that public announcement of the resumption of deliveries of suspended military items will be made on Tuesday, September 222 and that instructions have been given U.S. military services to arrange for expeditious delivery of the items which are now to be released for shipment to the [Page 736] GOG. You should ask the PM to keep knowledge of our intention confidential until the 22nd.
If queried why September 22 was chosen, you may tell him we wished to avoid complicating the arrangements which now seem to be successfully in train for dealing in the DPC on Sept 18 with the report on Greek forces. We wished to avoid taking public action which would no doubt unravel the delicate and carefully worked out compromise.
You may also tell the PM that we will be informing Congressional leaders and our NATO allies sometime after Sept 18 and before the 22nd, asking them to keep announcement in confidence until public announcement is made.
The press release which will be handed to news media on Sept 22, approved at the highest level, reads as follows:
Begin Text. United States policy towards Greece has been under review by this Administration for the past 18 months. During that time the United States has continued to withhold major items of equipment in the Military Aid Program for Greece, a policy established by the previous Administration shortly after the coup in Greece in April 1967.
The Administration has now decided to resume normal military shipments to Greece. The resumption of such shipments will enhance the ability of the Greek forces to carry out their responsibilities in defense of the NATO area, and thus contribute importantly to the cohesion and strength of the southern flank of NATO. Greece offers strategic advantages to the NATO alliance and to the United States which are of great importance to the security of the West. This importance has been sharply underlined in recent months by events in the Eastern Mediterranean. The decision to resume the shipment of suspended items rests entirely on these considerations.
Although the United States had hoped for a more rapid return to representative government in Greece, the trend toward a constitutional order is established. Major sections of the constitution have been implemented, and partial restoration of civil rights has been accomplished. The Government of Greece has stated that it intends to establish parliamentary democracy. The United States shares the concern of its NATO allies for steady progress toward restoring the country to political government. This is a policy to which we remain firmly committed. End Text.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Vigderman on September 11; cleared by Davies, Springsteen (in draft), Pranger (DOD/ISA), Sisco, Eliot, and Johnson; and approved by Rogers. Haig wrote on the telegram: “HAK—looks OK—Greeks told now but announcement held until NATO DPC meeting over on 22nd.” Kissinger also initialed the telegram.
  2. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, October 12, 1970, p. 413.
  3. Printed from an unsigned copy. Tasca reported on Papadopoulosʼs initial positive reaction to the policy change in telegram 5164 from Athens, September 17. He suggested a Presidential or Secretary of State visit to Greece and Turkey. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 593, Country Files—Middle East, Greece, Vol. I Jan 69–Oct 70) The U.S. decision was formally conveyed to Vitsaxis by Deputy Assistant Secretary Davies on September 21. A memorandum of their conversation is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 GREECE.