225. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger asked that I pass you the following report2 on the opening session of CENTO.

“I spoke today at the opening session of CENTO along with the Ministers of Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. My principal theme was to reaffirm that we will stand by our friends and allies; this was welcomed by the participants as timely. As you know, this area has become even more important to us strategically than [Page 736] in the past. The session was opened by a message from the Turkish President followed by a short speech by Prime Minister DEMIREL in which he underscored the importance of CENTO in this part of the world.

“The US is not a formal member of CENTO but as an ‘observer’ we participate fully in its activities. Our link is based on individual bilateral agreements we have with the principal regional partners—Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. We are committed ‘to consult’ our CENTO partners in the event of a Communist aggression against them. As détente has supplanted cold war, the work of the organization has shifted to economic activities, although this past year an important joint military exercise was successfully undertaken. CENTO’s principal utility is that it provides us with an instrumentality for close consultations with Iran and Turkey. For several years Pakistan’s participation was minimal, but in the aftermath of the Indo-Pak war, Bhutto has made his country a more active participant. Your decision to lift the arms embargo against Pakistan has been an added stimulus to the Paks.

“The most important part of the day centered on my bilateral discussions with the Turks. I had a rather full discussion with Prime Minister DEMIREL at lunch and a two-hour session with Foreign Minister Caglayangil. It is clear that the DEMIREL Government would like to find a Cyprus solution; it is equally clear that he is in a most difficult position domestically to take an initiative which could break the impasse with Greece on this issue. The Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministers met just a few days ago to explore possibilities, but made no substantial progress on this key problem. They have, however, agreed to continue the dialogue on this as well as differences over the Aegean.

“The curious situation is that DEMIREL would like to move ahead on a solution but he is stymied because Ecevit, the former Prime Minister, is not willing to agree to any settlement at this time. Ecevit is stalling because he knows the settlement would be good for Turkey and thus to Ecevit’s electoral advantage. The continuance of the aid cutoff continues to complicate matters for the Turk Government and our bilateral relations. There was disappointment here with the one-vote margin by which the Senate took action,3 and the Turks are pessimistic regarding the possibilities in the House. I assured them that we would continue our efforts to get the House to take action similar to the Senate; they are going to send a delegation to bring their case to the Congress.

“The Greek and Turkish Foreign Ministers will meet again in Brussels prior to your meeting with Caramanlis and DEMIREL, but we must not expect any breakthrough on the Cyprus issue at that meeting. The [Page 737] Turks fully agree with our analysis that a quick solution would serve their interest, but the political environment is against a weak DEMIREL Government taking the requisite decisions. Since the gap will still be wide, I believe it will be important for you to restate to Caramanlis and to DEMIREL our general views on the need for early progress on the Cyprus question, but it would not be desirable, in my judgment, for us to get into a mediating posture. I believe the most we can hope to achieve in the discussions with Caramanlis and DEMIREL is some added momentum for them to continue their own efforts to close the gap.

“It was also clear from my discussions here that regardless of the arms embargo, there is tremendous good will for us and that the Turks would like to try to find a way to avoid taking any retaliatory action which would be contrary to our mutual interests. However, the government is under increasing pressure to take some countermeasures.

“I also had a talk with Minister of State Aziz Ahmed of Pakistan whose principal concern is that within two years India may again attack Pakistan. Since the decision to lift the embargo, the Paks have not made any specific request for sales of arms from us. They are carefully trying to determine their priorities since they do not have the money to purchase the sophisticated weapons they want within the next two- year timeframe. Aziz asked that we talk to both the Iranians and the Saudis to encourage them to help the Pakistanis financially. I told them we had already talked to the Shah, and we would continue to encourage both Iran and Saudi Arabia to be helpful.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables for Henry Kissinger, 1974–1976, Box 8, 5/18–23/75, HAK to President. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum indicating that he had seen it.
  2. This report was transmitted to Scowcroft in telegram Hakto 26 from Ankara, May
  3. See footnote 4, Document 224.