436. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1

6301. Subject: Ingersoll Visit to Turkey—Presidential Letter. Ref: State 159705 and 163371.2

I have serious doubts about having the President write a “secret letter” to the Prime Minister of Turkey on the opium question. Letters of this kind do not stay secret very long, and it will be recalled that my own instructions were to discuss the matter personally with the Prime Minister and deliver only an oral message from the President to him.
In the present atmosphere surrounding opium, it is absolutely essential that there be no indication of heavy unilateral US pressure on the Prime Minister at a moment when he is girding himself for a major political fight at his convention this month and facing the opening of Parliament the first week of November. Moreover, a letter from a former President of the United States (i.e., the Johnson letter on Cyprus) still remains the single most painful event (as far as the Turks are concerned) in our history since World War II.
There is no doubt in the Prime Ministerʼs mind of the Presidentʼs personal interest in this matter. I have communicated that a number of times, and against the risks I do not see anything to be gained at this time by having a personal written letter from the President to Prime Minister Demirel delivered by Mr. Ingersoll.
With regard to the suggestion in para 5 (State 159705) that Mr. Ingersoll be given a Presidential letter to be shown here and elsewhere, [Page 1076] I do not have strong feelings one way or the other. I do think, however, that its use might be awkward here since I do not know how it would be used in practice. Simply to show it to the Prime Minister and retain it for use elsewhere makes it look like a passport. However, I do not feel strongly about this, and it may be of use in opening doors elsewhere. Frankly, I believe that it would be more tasteful and less awkward if Mr. Ingersoll, when he sees the Prime Minister, were to say something like this: “As you know, Ambassador Handley has told you of the deep interest that the President has in this matter. The President has asked me, following the recent meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, to make a trip through various capitals in Europe, and it is for that reason that I am here.” Certainly he will not have to show credentials. They will be assumed.3
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 633, Country Files—Middle East, Turkey, Vol. II 1 Jan 1970–31 Dec 1971. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 159705, September 9, 1970, to Ankara outlined plans for Ingersollʼs visit to Turkey. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/INGERSOLL) Telegram 163371 to Ankara, October 3, reported that Ingersoll had told Turkish representatives that he would carry a letter from President Nixon to Prime Minister Demirel on the issue of narcotics. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 167166 to Ankara, October 9, the Department forwarded the text of a Presidential letter that conformed to Handleyʼs suggestions. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 633, Country Files—Middle East, Turkey, Vol. II 1 Jan 1970–31 Dec 1971) A copy of the letter is ibid.