113. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • John Day
  • Amb. William Buffum
  • Defense
  • Amos Jordan
  • Harry Bergold
  • M/Gen. Denis P. McAuliffe
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • LTG John W. Pauly
  • CIA
  • LTG Vernon A. Walters
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Rosemary Niehuss
  • David Ransom
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

  • —the aircraft carrier America would continue to hold in the Mediterranean, but that scheduled training exercises could proceed;
  • —the FBIS Station on Cyprus would be evacuated; and
  • —there would be no hold up on ongoing military shipments to either Greece or Turkey.

Gen. Walters: Before I begin the briefing, I would like to comment on the DIA report you probably have seen about the reported coup in Greece.2

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, I have a copy.

Gen. Walters: [1 line not declassified] they say they have heard the rumor, but that they have no hard information—only rumor. [less than 1 line not declassified] there is absolutely nothing to confirm the rumors. I know this Davos, and he has made noises in the past about a coup. I doubt…

Secretary Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Gen. Walters: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [2 lines not declassified]

Gen. Walters: [11/2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [11/2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Lauder: [1 line not declassified]

Gen. Walters: [less than 1 line not declassified]

(Gen. Walters began to brief from the attached text)3

Secretary Kissinger: Sisco also reports that a coup is underway, but he wants out of there, and he’ll report anything to do it! I think he is just looking for another reason to leave.

Gen. Walters continued to brief.

Mr. Stabler: Joe says he is leaving tonight.

Secretary Kissinger: I want Sisco to stay where he is and to check with me before he leaves. If that meeting begins in Geneva, I want him [Page 376] to go. The U.S. has got to be represented there, and I want him to go. (to Mr. Stabler) Make it clear to Joe that he either goes to Geneva or comes home, but that he does neither until he hears from us.

Gen. Walters continued to brief.

Secretary Kissinger: How could the Greeks land aircraft at Nicosia airport?

Gen. Walters: How could the Turks not stop it? A transport making a landing is a very vulnerable target. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: How much of Nicosia do they (the Turks) control?

Gen. Walters: We’re not sure about that. Turkish paratroopers landed around the city, but we are not sure just how much of the town they hold. The main invasion came from the beachhead north of the city, up here, near Kyrenia (pointing to map). They have established somewhat of a corridor between the beachhead and the Turkish Quarter in Nicosia, but we are not sure just how much of the city they control at this point. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: What was the name of that castle again?

Gen. Walters: St. Hilarion. It’s at the pass in the mountains between Nicosia and Kyrenia. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but there could be some individual executions going on, couldn’t there? I mean, individual executions would not as a normal rule get reported. (In reference to a statement in the briefing that there have been no mass executions reported.)

Gen. Walters: Oh, I’m sure that executions of individuals probably were going on, particularly in the Turkish Communities. But, we have nothing to substantiate the claim that mass executions are being carried out. There has been a lot of killing on the island, and I surely would not rule out individual killings, particularly in the Turkish Communities. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: How has NATO frustrated or thwarted Greek designs?

Gen. Walters: I really don’t know, but the Greeks seem to have this perception.

Secretary Kissinger: What exactly is the situation on the island? I’ve got to know that for my talks with Makarios this afternoon. Isn’t the Turkish position on the island weaker now than before?

Gen. Walters: Well…

Secretary Kissinger: Wait, before that, George (Gen. Brown) would you like to say something?

Gen. Brown: There are two things. One, the Turks have not made the headway they expected. They underestimated Greek resistance and overestimated Turkish support on the island. However, and this is the [Page 377] second point, they can re-supply and they control the air. Over time this will make a great difference. They can greatly strengthen their forces on the beachhead, which is already strong. They have a line of communication to the sea.

Secretary Kissinger: If I have learned anything since coming to Washington it is that you have only two choices in using force: either you use strong force or none at all. If you are going to use force, it should be used massively. There are no awards for moderate use of force.

Gen. Brown: There are indications that they have taken your advice.

Secretary Kissinger: How’s that?

Gen. Brown: They attacked their own ships yesterday, apparently sunk a couple.

Secretary Kissinger: What’s that?

Gen. Brown: We’re not sure, somewhere off the southern coast.

Mr. Ingersoll: I think it was that group off Paphos.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, I have to know the situation on the island. I have to know it so that we can chart our course in the negotiations. It seems to me that the Turkish position is weaker now than before they invaded.

Gen. Walters: They have 5,000 more troops on the island…

Mr. Stabler: But that doesn’t put them in a stronger position.

Gen. Walters: Five-thousand more troops…

Secretary Kissinger: I’m just trying to understand the situation. What is the Turkish position. It seems to me you can have two interpretations:(1) the Turks gained strength by establishing a beachhead, or (b) lost strength when Greek Cypriots overwhelmed Turkish Communities. Which one is right?

Gen. Walters: Well, I think that 5,000 troop advantage that the Turks have will begin to show up in the coming weeks.

Secretary Kissinger: I want somebody to tell me what the situation is on the island so that I can tell Makarios.

Gen. Brown: I would tilt toward the former (above). I think the Turks will pour in enough stuff during the ceasefire to put them in a better arguing position.

Gen. Walters: I agree.

(Secretary Kissinger was handed a message)

Secretary Kissinger: The Russians have an urgent message coming in. (to Mr. Kennedy) Can I take it down here?

Mr. Kennedy: We’ll get it switched down here.

Gen. Walters: The Turkish Communities have all but been eliminated.

[Page 378]

Secretary Kissinger: Where does this leave Makarios?

Gen. Walters: The Greeks don’t want Makarios.

Secretary Kissinger: The Turks don’t either.

Mr. Jordan: I’m not sure we know which way the balance has tipped and don’t know if we ever will.

Gen. Walters: If a ceasefire …

(Secretary Kissinger was called out of the room at 10:58 and returned at 11:01)

Secretary Kissinger: That was the message from the Russians.4 They have a ship that is going into Larnaca for evacuation purposes. They have some 150 personnel they want to take out. They have asked for our assistance, and have also appealed to the British. They are not letting anybody else know. I said that we would give them our maximum support. (to Mr. Stabler) Get in touch with (Ambassador) Davies and their Ambassador there and tell them we have agreed to give maximum assistance. I hope they get the ship out of there fast.

Gen. Brown: I think we ought to tell the 6th Fleet also.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. (Gen. Pauly leaves meeting)

Gen. Walters: The Turks don’t want him (Makarios).

Secretary Kissinger: The National Guard is overwhelmingly against him—it’s an anti-Makarios force. After all, that’s the unit that overthrew him. As long as it has Greek officers in command, it has to be anti-Makarios. Can they get rid of Sampson? Anybody heard anything from him lately?

Gen. Walters: We’ve heard nothing from him. He’s given one or two talks on the radio, but other than that, nothing.

Mr. Day: Ioannides says that Sampson is expendable.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but Ioannides is not in Turkey. My question is, can Sampson rally independent support on the island or is this a question that has to be settled between the Greeks and the Turks? As far as we are concerned, he is expendable.

Gen. Walters: Yes, no question.

Amb. McCloskey: It’s a question if Athens and Ankara can agree on anything.

Secretary Kissinger: As I look at it, the balance of forces picture is this. The Turks have not followed up their gains on the beachhead, and they are doing even less well in the communities. It seems to me that [Page 379] it is unlikely that the Turks will be able to overtake the Greek Cypriots, even in time.

Mr. Ingersoll: We can probably rely on the Turks to keep reinforcing.

Secretary Kissinger: It seems to me that if Makarios were to go back, he would have to look around for additional support, and to my way of thinking that means the East Bloc and left-wing Cypriots. Well, that’s okay, we’ll know what to do then, although it is a very complex problem. I want to make it clear that we are not disassociating ourselves from Makarios, but by the same token, we have no incentive to push him. We’ll wait to see what emerges from the negotiations.

Mr. Jordan: There is the possibility that the Turkish army might overthrow Ecevit.

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t know so. He’s a strange one. He really stalled on the ceasefire, gave me the weirdest collection of excuses I’ve ever heard. First of all was the business about the phantom “Greek Armada”. Secondly, he gave us this stuff about the Greek airplanes using Turkish callsigns, and thirdly he talked about announcing the principle of the ceasefire but leaving the details to be decided later. We finally gave an ultimatum. The British and the French agreed to support us with separate messages but, in the event, their communications arrived too late, after the decision. Neither the Greeks or the Turks trusted the other enough to announce their ceasefire first. So we had to announce it. First the Turks accepted, then the Greeks.

Now we’ll go into negotiations. There is a task force under Hartman working on our negotiating positions. We’re going to bring Sisco back, I don’t think he’ll go on another mission again soon. He did a great job under impossible conditions. We’ll send Buffum here as our representative to Geneva.

Mr. Stabler: I thought the Turks were opposed to Geneva—wanted Vienna. The Greeks want Geneva.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, wherever it is, the Turks will go anywhere now.

Mr. Stabler: The Greeks say they won’t go until Friday.5

Secretary Kissinger: It doesn’t matter when they get started—a couple of days doesn’t matter. I think we’ve come out of this crisis in a good position. Soviet impotence to influence the outcome or support their friends was again recorded. It will be noted in the Arab [Page 380] World in my opinion. In the meantime, anything that emerges from the negotiations is better for the U.S. With the balance of forces we can steer the negotiations. Bill (Buffum) we don’t want to put up with any sentimentality on the part of the Greeks. Is there anything else we need to take up?

Gen. Brown: When this thing started, the aircraft carrier America was in Rota, Spain, due to rotate back on the 24th of July. We put a hold on her, as you know. I would propose that we keep holding her, but would also like to go to sea for scheduled training exercises.

Secretary Kissinger: Absolutely, no problem with that. Go ahead with the training, but let’s hold a decision on bringing the ship back to the U.S. By the way, we are going to talk to (UN Sec. Gen) Waldheim about increasing the UN force on the island to help keep the peace. What was the situation on the island before this thing started? Were the Turks all in enclaves?

Gen. Walters: Yes, as you can see by this map.

Secretary Kissinger: Were they all self-governing?

Gen. Walters: Not all of them were, but a number of them did have self-government.

Secretary Kissinger: The enclaves that were under Turkish control, did they lose them all?

Gen. Walters: Yes, almost all.

Secretary Kissinger: Why were the Turks so incompetent?

Gen. Walters: Well, I think that one-to-five ratio was a big factor.

They (the Turks) couldn’t even take Nicosia airport.

Gen. Brown: I think history will show that they were rather inept in the whole operation. I think analysis will show that their whole situation was amateurish. Their air support was ineffective.

Secretary Kissinger: And they didn’t even get their paratroopers anywhere near their enclaves.

Gen. Walters: Well, those enclaves are small and it’s hard to drop them right on them.

Secretary Kissinger: But at least it would have kept the Greeks busy.

Gen. Brown: The whole operation at Famagusta was a debacle. There was no pre-planning or coordination, just a debacle.

Secretary Kissinger: How is it that they are so incompetent? Are they (the Turks) really that strong on the island then?

Gen. Walters: Well, I don’t know… Incidently, can we get those FBIS people out of there?

Secretary Kissinger: They’re not out yet? I thought we said yesterday to take them out.

[Page 381]

Gen. Brown: No, I think you said you wanted to wait until the ceasefire.

Secretary Kissinger: Of course, by all means, get them out.

Gen. Brown: That is going to take some doing.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s get them out.

Mr. Ingersoll: I have another question. I think there has been a misunderstanding on the delay of military equipment to Greece and Turkey. The Department of Defense says a delay only to Greece.

Secretary Kissinger: I thought we were going to delay only certain types of items.

Mr. Jordan: Our understanding was that we were to hold up major items only to Greece and ascribe the delays to technical reasons.

Secretary Kissinger: Correct! Everything else keeps going! We don’t want the Greeks to think that they are being cut off. We want to keep the sympathy of Greek officials.

Amb. McCloskey: We’re not holding up major items to Turkey too.

Mr. Jordan: They are continuing to be moved. We’ve only asked the suppliers to check with us before moving them on.

Secretary Kissinger: What are the major items? What have we stopped?

Mr. Jordan read from list.

Secretary Kissinger: We’re holding the two F–4s in Rota and the A–7 contract. Everything else goes forward. Only the F–4s and A–7 contract is being held. It would be useful to give at least the visual appearance that the hardware is coming in.

Mr. Ingersoll: And no delay on the military equipment to Turkey?

Secretary Kissinger: What is going in?

Mr. Jordan read from the list.

Secretary Kissinger: I see no reason to delay anything to Turkey. In fact, there is every reason to get the stuff to Turkey.

Mr. Jordan: There is another F–4 at the factory in St. Louis. It’s supposed to go in a few days.

Secretary Kissinger: Move it to Rota. Then, if we have to, we can say there has been a technical delay. Now, what are you going to say at Defense about this military aid business?

Mr. Jordan: What we are saying is that this whole question of military supply is in the hands of State Department. If the suppliers ask what they should do, we’re saying that we are trying to straighten out the situation, that it is all messed up in bureaucratic paperwork. As far as the press, we’re referring them to State.

Secretary Kissinger: That Getler article did not come out of State. It came out of Defense. The President absolutely does not want a [Page 382] cut-off of military aid to Greece. If need be, I’ll get a Presidential Directive on that, but you shouldn’t need one. I want to make it clear that we are not to withhold military aid to Greece. The F–4s can be held up, and the A–7 contract.

Mr. Kennedy: You mean, don’t sign it.

Secretary Kissinger: When is it supposed to be signed?

Mr. Stabler: It has already been signed, but it will take some time yet to finalize.

Secretary Kissinger: I do not want the Greek Government to feel that we have contributed to their rape.

Gen. Brown: If we delay the A–7 contract, we may have to renegotiate the cost. Since deliveries won’t take place for months and months, I think we should go ahead.

Secretary Kissinger: Now, the Department of Defense’s position is what? What are you going to say about military aid.

Mr. Jordan: That it has never been stopped.

Secretary Kissinger: Can we say that at the noon briefing?

Mr. Ingersoll: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: Good. I don’t want a hassle with Congress on when and why we resumed aid. I think this has been a well-coordinated and well-run crisis. I want to congratulate you all. We may meet again tomorrow or the day after.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–097, Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Walters stated in the attached briefing that “both sides, having agreed to a cease-fire for 1000 Washington time today, appear to be making efforts to improve their position.”
  4. Kissinger spoke with Vorontsov at 11 a.m. (Transcript of telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 384, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  5. July 26.