300. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Greece (Tasca) to the Presidentʼs Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

60. Ref Athens 059.2

Pursuant to guidance contained in your several messages,3 I met with Foreign Minister Lopez-Bravo on December 9 and had a long and useful private discussion with him.
The Foreign Minister greeted me cordially and opened the substantive discussion by recalling his meeting with President Nixon in Naples in September,4 and by commenting on his luncheon about the same time with King Constantine, whom he had found to be clearly interested in establishing rapport with the Spanish Government and in seeking advice as to how he should proceed to get back to Greece.
Explaining my mission in detail following the outline of referenced message, I expressed the Presidentʼs interest in closer cooperation between Greece and Spain for defense against Soviet expansion, detailing the strategic importance of Greece and Turkey not only to Soviet ambitions in the Mediterranean but also in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. The Foreign Minister followed this explanation keenly.
Since he had opened the discussion by referring to King Constantine, I also took up that theme remarking that the question of the King was for Greece to decide, that the King might play a constructive role in the future, but that his future is clouded by the stormy history of the monarchy in Greece as well as events of the recent past, and that he would have to work very hard to get back on his throne. I explained frankly the Kingʼs problems in Greece and how important it was for the King coming out clearly for U.S. military aid to Greece, for implementation of the 1968 Constitution and in opposition to violence as a means of overthrowing the present regime. The Foreign Minister sought out my views on the durability of the present Greek regime, its popular support and the morale of the armed forces. He was surprised to learn of the very impressive economic growth record this regime was building up.
On the Arab-Israeli problem I noted the capabilities of Greece and Spain in the Middle East and underlined that both countries, concerned as they were with the Soviet threat in the Mediterranean, had a common interest in helping the Arabs and Israelis reach a peace settlement. I stressed that such a settlement would be a major step toward limiting and diminishing the Soviet threat. The Foreign Minister said that he agreed and then asked whether I thought the peace talks would be resumed at an early date. I replied, giving him details of our position as outlined recently by Assistant Secretary Sisco to various Ambassadors in Washington.
I repeated at several points that we were hopeful that Spain would see fit to strengthen her ties with Greece within a framework of supporting the eastern defense flank in the Mediterranean. I also told him I had reason to believe Prime Minister Papadopoulos would be quite receptive to deeper relations with Spain. On completion of my exposition and our ensuing discussion, the Foreign Minister said that he had found it all impressive and that he himself would seek to visit Greece in the near future. He added that he would be getting in touch with me at an early date on this matter.
The Foreign Minister turned briefly to Morocco5 and asked my views on the strength of the nationalist Istiqlal party, clearly concerned about that partyʼs agitation for the expulsion of the Spanish from the enclaves and for pressing a claim in the Spanish Sahara. I said that I thought that King Hassan was firmly in control and the King was a real friend of Spain and the best leader we could hope for. I also added that I was certain that as with Greece and Turkey, the United States was keenly interested in strong and friendly relations between Morocco [Page 753] and Spain. The Foreign Minister said he fully agreed and considered Hassan the best possible leader in Morocco, in fact he was expecting the Moroccan Foreign Minister to visit him shortly in Madrid for a friendly exchange of views.
In summary, I believe the Spanish Government would be definitely interested in a program of closer cooperation with Greece. In fact, I detected gratification on the part of Lopez-Bravo that the United States was encouraging Spanish Government to take such an initiative which would demonstrate Spanish desire to be a major, positive force in the area. On the other hand, prior to my departure from Greece, I mentioned briefly to Prime Minister Papadopoulos that I was going to Spain on a visit and that the United States would like to see a closer relationship between these two countries in the struggle against Soviet attempts to subvert and expand their influence in the entire area. He indicated that he would welcome such closer cooperation.
My overall impression was that Lopez-Bravo was flattered by the Presidentʼs action in sending me to discuss this subject and that the mission should produce effects beneficial not only to relations between Greece and Spain, but also to our own relations with each of these countries.
I briefed Ambassador Hill6 fully before and after my discussion. He preferred not to accept my invitation to accompany me, saying he thought Lopez-Bravo might be more forthcoming if I went alone. He was somewhat concerned that one of the Embassy secretaries had inadvertently let others in the Embassy know of my appointment with the Foreign Minister. However, we agreed that there was no need to provide anyone with information as to the purpose or substance of my visit, and that my appointment could be passed off as a normal enough, informal exchange of views, given the fact that I have friends throughout Europe who invite me to drop in to see them when they hear I am in town.
As to next steps, I plan with your approval:
To give Papadopoulos a briefing on what I told Lopez-Bravo.7
To stimulate some intelligence exchange and contact, and,
Providing you think it feasible, to look into the matter of off shore purchase.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Greece.]

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I would appreciate any suggestion or comment you may have.8

With warm personal regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 423, Backchannel Files—Backchannel Messages, 1970–Europe, Mideast, Latin America. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Transmitted to Kissinger at San Clemente on December 28. Received in the White House at 0021Z on December 16.
  2. Dated November 30. It reported Tascaʼs itinerary. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 297 and backchannel message WH2209 from Kissinger to Tasca, November 27. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 423, Backchannel Files—Backchannel Messages, 1970–Europe, Mideast, Latin America)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 297.
  5. Tasca had served as Ambassador to Morocco from 1965 to 1969.
  6. Robert C. Hill, Ambassador to Spain.
  7. In backchannel message 61 from Athens, Tasca reported that he would be meeting Papadopoulos within a week to discuss his visit to Spain and asked for instructions. Kissinger wrote on the telegram: “Proposed agenda in Athens 060 seems excellent. No suggestions from here.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 423, Backchannel Files—Backchannel Messages, 1970–Europe, Mideast, Latin America)
  8. In backchannel message WH2251 to Tasca, December 28, Kissinger approved plans for a briefing of Papadopoulos. (Ibid.)