131. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Joseph Sisco
  • Wells Stabler
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Defense
  • Robert Ellsworth
  • Gen. Denis McAuliffe
  • Amos Jordan
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • LTG John W. Pauly
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • M/Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Denis Clift
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

  • —the F–4s now located at Torrejon, Spain would be held up until Friday, August 16, and that the F–4s now in the U.S. would be held up until Monday, August 19, using technical problems as the excuse;
  • —the WSAG Working Group would prepare contingency plans in the event of a Greek-Turkish war;
  • —that CIA would prepare an assessment of the domestic situation in both Greece and Turkey, with emphasis on Greece.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill

Mr. Colby began to brief from the attached text.2

Secretary Kissinger: That doesn’t seem to be their speciality. (referring to the possibility of a Turkish invasion along the northern coast of Cyprus)

Mr. Colby: No, you’re right, it isn’t. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: What do you mean the Greeks are hard pressed?

Mr. Colby: That they are being pushed by the Turks in that area between Nicosia and Famagusta. Incidently, we do have a press report of a ceasefire. It’s from Nicosia, but we are unable to confirm it. (continued to brief)

Secretary Kissinger: What do you mean by a Greek defeat? (referring to the statement in the briefing that Karamanlis might not be able to survive a clear Greek defeat over Cyprus)

Mr. Colby: A Turkish victory in the Cyprus area—Turkish occupation of the whole island. I don’t think that is their intention—to take the whole island—only that part they want.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Sisco) Have we heard from those recalcitrants at State? I mean the ambassadors abroad—in response to our cables?

[Page 434]

Mr. Sisco: No, nothing. They just went out a few hours ago.

Secretary Kissinger: What we are talking about is that we sent messages today to Ecevit, Karamanlis, and Clerides outlining our views on the current situation.3 Haven’t we heard anything from any of them today?

Mr. Sisco: Yes, we did get a message from Karamanlis which said that they were withdrawing their military forces from NATO, but that they were not withdrawing politically.4 It was cautious, gave as the reason, NATO’s inability to stop Turkish intervention.

Secretary Kissinger: I think that it is in our interest now to keep all avenues of negotiation open. Our major strategy now is not to get ourselves in a position that would give vent to righteous indignation on the part of either the Greeks or the Turks. I think this development has its own logic for solution. We don’t want to contribute to the Greek humiliation, and we don’t want the Turks to feel that we have turned against them. The British are out in front on this thing, and as long as the British are out in front, it is better from our point of view. We’re going to take some heat, I’m sure of that, but time will ease that. What we want now is to get a disengagement of forces. In my judgment, it is going to wind up that way—would have anyway if they would have accepted our 48-hour proposal.

Our goal now is to make it possible for the Greeks to accept this. At the end of this meeting I want to establish a firm press line that we all will follow.

(to Mr. Colby) What is your assessment of the Greeks and Turks going to war?

Mr. Colby: We don’t think it’s in the cards, at least at this point.

Mr. Sisco: (to Mr. Colby) What is CIA’s estimate of rising anti-Americanism in Greece?

Secretary Kissinger: We don’t really care at this point about rising anti-Americanism in Greece. We’re not playing 48-hour politics here. Our interest is in what happens three weeks from now.

Mr. Sisco: I understand, but is there really something to it? How broad is anti-Americanism?

Mr. Colby: Well…

Secretary Kissinger: I was talking to Callaghan this morning,5 and he was complaining that he is unpopular in Greece. I can understand [Page 435] that. In this business you are paid by your results, and he didn’t deliver a damn thing! I have no doubt that the Greek Left will go after us after the thing is over.

Mr. Colby: They’ll go after us anyway.

Secretary Kissinger: At the least, we can get credit for stopping the Turkish attack. If we play our cards right, and with some skill, we will come out of this thing on the good side, with both governments.

Mr. Colby: One critical area, however, is the Turkish military.

Secretary Kissinger: What do you mean?

Mr. Colby: They are the active force behind the Ecevit government. We’ve got to see that they come out all right.

Secretary Kissinger: I talked with Ecevit the other day,6 and he said the 36-hour proposal was that of the military. He promised he would do what he could to control them.

Mr. Colby: I think it would help if you could communicate with the Turkish Generals.

Secretary Kissinger: To what end? What do I tell them?

Mr. Colby: At least tell them to stop where they said they would.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we’ll see what kind of answers we get back from our cables first. (to Mr. Sisco) What is the UN doing?

Mr. Sisco: There is a Security Council meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. today.

Secretary Kissinger: What are they going to talk about?

Mr. Sisco: Some resolution—condemnation of Turkey for its actions.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s make sure we are not out in front on this thing. I agree that we had better wait until we get our answers from Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, and tomorrow we can make a decision. Nobody here should talk until we get our answers. We just can’t go beyond where we are now at this point.

Amb. Ellsworth: There are two things of concern to us…

Secretary Kissinger: Okay, we’ll support the U.N. efforts to end the trouble, but lay-off on the condemnations. I saw Dobrynin today and told the Soviets to lay off, and they agreed to do nothing. They would agree to do anything at this point. Okay, the military…

Amb. Ellsworth: The first thing is that we have two firm cargoes—a mixture of military grant and aid—enroute to Athens and Ankara. It’s easy to tell them to stay where they are or to go on…

[Page 436]

Secretary Kissinger: Where are they now?

Amb. Ellsworth: One is scheduled to offload at Pireus, Athens’ port, on Saturday. It is carrying cargo for both the Greeks and the Turks. What worries me is that the Greeks might pull the same thing they did before, grab the stuff headed for Turkey.

Gen. Brown: What’s the name of that ship?

Amb. Ellsworth: The Lash Espana. We can tell them to proceed on course but to check with us before they go into Pireus.

Secretary Kissinger: Tell them not to stop unless they receive orders from here.

Gen. Brown: I have an outgoing message here that says that under the direction of the Secretary of State, they are not to go into Athens or Ankara, but to be held where they are.

Secretary Kissinger: That is total nonsense. I want them to keep going as if nothing is happening. I don’t want to escalate this thing into a big deal. Our object is to keep NATO together and to keep peace between the two parties.

(to Mr. Sisco) What about General Brown’s information? Who is it in State that told the military not to offload the cargo?

Gen. Brown: My information is from J–4, which is working with your office (to Mr. Ellsworth).

Mr. Jordan: I was told that we were told by State to do this.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Sisco) Find the guy who did this. I want to know who did this. Tell the Greeks that the ship is coming in, and ask them if we can get their assurance that it will not be tampered with. Can you still split the cargo?

Amb. Ellsworth: Yes, that’s no problem.

Gen. Brown: She’s due in Naples tomorrow. We can split the cargo there.

Amb. Ellsworth: We’ll get that corrected. The next subject concerns the F–4s. We’ve got some going to both Greece and Turkey. We have some in Torrejon, Spain, and some in the U.S., ready to move.

Secretary Kissinger: Hold the ones at Torrejon until the 16th—Friday. Hold the ones in the U.S. until next Monday. Use technical problems as an excuse.

Amb. Ellsworth: Okay. Next subject—[2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [5 lines not declassified]

Amb. Ellsworth: [1½ lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [1½ lines not declassified]

Gen. Brown: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: That’s a good idea. We didn’t have a working group during the last crisis, but I think it would be a good idea to get [Page 437] one together. Dick (Mr. Kennedy), would you take charge of that? What I want you to look at is two things: (1) contingency plans for a Greek-Turkish war; and (2) a CIA estimate of the domestic situation in both countries, particularly in Greece. I think we have sent out all the necessary messages. The President talked to Harold Wilson early today.7 I’m not going to send any message to the Soviet Union. I have a message from NATO Secretary General Luns that he intends to go to Athens and Ankara. I don’t think he will do any good, but I have no objections to his going.

Amb. Ellsworth: We have no objections, but I don’t think it will do much good.

Gen. Brown: I talked with General Goodpaster this morning, who talked with Luns. It’s Luns’ opinion that we just ought to go slow on this thing for the time being.

Secretary Kissinger: Callaghan told me this morning that he thinks he made a mistake by siding with the Greeks. He also thinks he didn’t move fast enough. He’s right! He now believes that diplomacy will not work. He believes the Turks will occupy only what they want and that the situation will eventually evolve into a federated state of some type. I don’t agree with all of his ideas. I think we can move toward a constructive agreement, but first we must get a ceasefire.

The Press—what did we say at the noon briefing?

Amb. McCloskey: That if there was no ceasefire we would have to withdraw military assistance from both countries, and that if war develops between two NATO allies, they would get no support from the U.S.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll see what answers we get back. We’ll meet again tomorrow. Do we have anything scheduled tomorrow?

Gen. Scowcroft: An SRG on Australia.

Secretary Kissinger: We’ll scrub Australia and have a WSAG tomorrow at 10:30. Did you brief the congressional people?

Amb. McCloskey: Everybody but Rhodes. He hasn’t called me back.

Secretary Kissinger: Good. We’ll meet again tomorrow at 10:30.

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–18, WSAG Meeting Minutes, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House.
  2. Attached but not printed. The briefing indicated that the Turkish offensive on Cyprus was making progress. While there were no signs of significant changes in Turkish forces on the mainland, the Greek forces had increased their readiness.
  3. Telegrams 177679 to Ankara and 177680 to Athens, both August 14. No telegram to Nicosia was found. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  4. Transmitted in telegram 5694 from Athens, August 14. (Ibid.)
  5. No record of this conversation has been found.
  6. Apparent reference to Kissinger’s telephone conversation with Ecevit on August 12 at 5:26 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 385, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  7. No record of this conversation has been found.