86. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Joseph Sisco
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • Thomas D. Boyatt
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Robert Ellsworth
  • Harry Bergold
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. John W. Pauly
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC Staff
  • Richard T. Kennedy
  • Harold H. Saunders
  • Rosemary Niehuss
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

  • —that the two U.S. naval task forces now in the Mediterranean would remain out of ports, in a holding position;
  • —that Ambassador Tasca ask President Ioannides for an unambiguous statement on Greek intentions toward Cyprus;
  • —that the Turkish Government be asked what they want to prevent on Cyprus;
  • —that our assessment of the situation be sent to relevant diplomatic posts; and
  • CIA would prepare a situation report on the status of forces on Cyprus.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Colby), do you have a briefing for us?

Mr. Colby began briefing from the attached text.2

Secretary Kissinger: What time? (In reference to the scheduled meeting of the UN Security Council.)

Mr. Colby: Sometime this afternoon, I think 3:00 p.m.

Mr. Sisco: Before Bill goes on I would like to bring you up to date with some later information. I was just on the phone to Buffum in New York. USUN has been informed that Weckman (the Special UN Representative on Cyprus) saw Makarios this morning—talked to him. Makarios said that the British had offered him (Makarios) protection and evacuation to any place he wanted to go. Makarios refused, but asked for UN protection. Waldheim is planning to convene the UNSC this afternoon to deal with this request.

Secretary Kissinger: I just talked to (British Foreign Minister) Callaghan on the phone five minutes ago.3 He says that Makarios has accepted—wants British protection. From what I understand, the British are flying him to the aircraft carrier Hermes and then to Malta. He was asking whether we had any ideas on where Makarios could be taken next. Everyone, at least now, agrees that Makarios is alive.

Mr. Sisco: Well, our information seems to be conflicting. I would think that the Callaghan information is more reliable.

[Page 290]

Secretary Kissinger: I told him (Mr. Callaghan) the line we were taking and he said go easy on the legitimate government issue because Makarios is leaving the island.

Mr. Colby continued to brief.

Secretary Kissinger: What do you think they mean by this? (In reference to plans for a special Turk parliamentary meeting to be held July 18.)

Mr. Colby: It could mean that they intend to move their forces to Cyprus.

Secretary Kissinger: I just can’t believe that. I just can’t believe they want Makarios back in power.

Mr. Sisco: The Turks would intervene to (a) protect the Turk Cypriot community and (b) to prevent enosis from taking place.

Secretary Kissinger: It just seems inconceivable to me that they would support him (Makarios).

Mr. Colby continued to brief.

Secretary Kissinger: They are moving in an easterly direction away from Cyprus? (In reference to Mr. Colby’s briefing on Soviet fleet movements.)

Mr. Colby: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: What kind of forces do we have in the Eastern Mediterranean now?

Gen. Pauly: There are two main task forces. One has the aircraft carrier Forrestal with it and the other is an amphibious task force. That group is located south of Crete. The task force with the Forrestal in it is now somewhere between Crete and Athens. There are other small elements around, but those are the two main task forces. We’ve told them all to remain out of the ports, in a holding position and to be prepared for a 24 hour lead time in case they are needed.

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t think we ought to do anything with them now, even if the Soviet ships are moving, am I right?

Mr. Sisco: Definitely. They are close enough anyway if we have to call on them. They are in a holding pattern and can be moved quickly. Besides, any movement might be seen as attempts to internationalize the situation. Holding is consistent with our policy.

Mr. Colby resumed his briefing which touched on the Greek-Turk Aegean dispute…

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s finish with Cyprus first.

(to Mr. Clements) Bill, do you have any views?

Mr. Clements: Only that I think we ought to keep the forces where they are. No movement.

Gen. Pauly: I agree.

[Page 291]

Mr. Sisco: I suggest we continue to maintain a low profile, remain cautious. Anything else at this time would be counterproductive. The situation is as murky today as yesterday. We just don’t know what’s going on. First, if the UK provides Makarios protection, that changes the situation. Second, we need to provide some guidance for today’s UN meeting. Also, Henry, we need some guidance on what to do about recognition.

Mr. Clements: Joe, (Mr. Sisco) I don’t understand what you said earlier about the UN. What’s happening at the UN?

Mr. Sisco: Well, in general, the way I understand it, the Secretary General will make this report to the Security Council. It’s scheduled to meet at 3:00 p.m.

Secretary Kissinger: Is (Ambassador) Scali there?

Mr. Sisco: Yes. I believe it will be Rossides (the Cypriot UN representative), who represents Makarios, who will raise the question. He will say that they will ask for the UN to support Makarios consistent with UN resolutions. The Soviets will jump in.

Secretary Kissinger: It seems to me we have to have a firm understanding of the situation before we jump. We have to look at the possibility of (1) civil war and the role of Makarios forces or (2) the Sampson regime establishes control with Makarios off the island. I think we ought to be careful that we don’t provide the Soviets the excuse to legitimatize the situation. I propose that in the noon briefing, if asked about recognition, we say that the issue has not arisen, or something like that. But, we do not want to be positive about who we do recognize. If Makarios is off the island, this might raise the Soviet angle.

Mr. Clements: That sounds reasonable to me. This UN thing concerns me, however. I mean, it could be a stamp of endorsement that would be premature from our standpoint.

Mr. Sisco: I agree.

Secretary Kissinger: Our first objective is to prevent the situation from becoming internationalized. We need to put stronger pressure on Athens, and today. We must get our Ambassador in to see the President, or Prime Minister, or whoever it is, and get our views across forcibly. We’ve got to get somebody in there who will ask the Greeks for a statement of their intentions. [1 line not declassified] We want an unambiguous statement of Greek intentions towards Cyprus from him. We want to defuse the Turk angle. They mainly want to prevent enosis. If civil war develops then we’ll have to assess the situation then. As far as the public line is concerned, we can say that the recognition issue just hasn’t arisen. Tomorrow we can decide on the internal situation when we know just where Makarios is. Callaghan can’t be wrong.

[Page 292]

Mr. Ellsworth: I might suggest that (Ambassador) Macomber also say something to the Turks. There has not been enough attention here to Turkey. It really fears the new Cypriot government.

Secretary Kissinger: O.K., but what should he say? Ask what they want to achieve.

Mr. Sisco: We need to make the point with Greece not to fool around with this troop rotation tomorrow.

Mr. Ellsworth: Something like, “don’t do anything”, just play it cool.

Secretary Kissinger: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Colby: I don’t want to use it, but the Ambassador is insisting on it.

Mr. Lauder: [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s get the word to Ioannidis. I don’t care which way, but do it.

Mr. Sisco: Ambassador Tasca should go see Ioannidis and tell him what we said yesterday.

Secretary Kissinger: Right.

Mr. Ingersoll: There is also a protocol problem of a reception for military attachés in Athens in a few hours. We should get a cable out to them for some guidance.

Mr. Clements: What’s this you’re talking about?

Mr. Stabler: It’s the annual reception for military attachés that the Greek Government is holding this afternoon.

Mr. Sisco: The question is, should all of them go—I think there are 12—or only a few?

Secretary Kissinger: I think we should cut it down a bit. Tell the top man not to go. Second-level our attendance.

Mr. Clements: O.K.

Secretary Kissinger: We should also write an assessment of the situation and send it to the various posts. Ambassador Davies in particular, and cut the number of attachés to the reception to about four. What do you want to do at the UN?

Mr. Sisco: Providing the British information is correct, we ought to try to slow or deflect it. We should tell Scali to limit this round to what they want to say. Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey will certainly want to say something. We can be sure of that. They can go ahead and have their say, but we should say nothing. All we should say is that we support the territorial integrity of Cyprus.

Secretary Kissinger: Good. I agree.

Mr. Colby: There is a good chance that resistance will develop on the island if the Turks invade.

[Page 293]

Secretary Kissinger: What, Makarios and the Communists? But if he (Makarios) is off the island, it seems to me resistance would collapse.

Mr. Sisco: If he remains on the island, there is a better chance, I agree. Makarios in the past has had Communist support. He also has a broad-based popular support.

Ambassador McCloskey: That’s right, in past elections Makarios has received upwards of 95 percent of the vote—in honest elections.

Secretary Kissinger: At issue here is what is the balance of forces if a civil war develops. If the organized forces are Communist, it’s an entirely different situation than if they are not.

Mr. Sisco: What are the political leanings of Makarios’ Tactical Reserve Forces?

Mr. Boyatt: They are basically pro-Makarios. They are certainly not Communist.

Secretary Kissinger: We don’t have a basis on which to move until the situation clarifies. It’s too complicated at this point. When talking to Callaghan, I could give him no ideas on what to do with Makarios. I just don’t think it is in his (Makarios’) interest to leave the island.

Mr. Clements: What is the size of the organized forces there, again?

Mr. Colby: There are 950 regular Greek forces, 650 Greek officers in the National Guard, and about 6,000 total forces on the island.

Mr. Sisco: Through the London-Turkish agreement the Greeks have a right to station officers on the island.

Secretary Kissinger: Our objectives as I see it are: (1) to prevent the internationalization of the situation, and (2) if civil war develops to conduct ourselves so that the Communists aren’t encouraged to exploit the situation. The first thing we have got to do is decouple the Greeks, and do it today. We also have to get the Turks to stay out of it. If he (Makarios) is indeed leaving, it seems to me that organized resistance will collapse. Callaghan told me it was at Makarios’ initiative to leave. Callaghan said that Makarios asked to be moved to a British Sovereign Base and from there to Malta. I just don’t understand his reasons for not staying.

Mr. Boyatt: I can’t either. It’s quite unlike him. He has guts, and this I don’t understand.

Secretary Kissinger: One thing we cannot accurately assess is what paramilitary forces are going to do. History has proved this. We have to see what develops on the island before we can really do anything. I see no problem on the recognition thing. We don’t want to recognize Sampson. He’s just a figurehead anyway, isn’t he?

Mr. Stabler: That’s right. If asked, we should just say that the question of recognition just hasn’t arisen.

[Page 294]

Mr. Colby continued to brief on the implication of the Aegean dispute.

Secretary Kissinger: Do we have anybody who can talk to the Turks?

Mr. Ellsworth: I’ve got some contacts in New York. I would like to get their assessment of the situation.

Secretary Kissinger: Can Macomber see Ecevit?

Mr. Sisco: Sure.

(At this point the Secretary was handed a cable from which he read.)4

Secretary Kissinger: Callaghan has just reported that Makarios is now in a Sovereign Base Area. He is not off the island yet. I had better call Callaghan and get some clarification because we can’t make a judgment until we know the status of Makarios. We need to get a better view of the ground situation on the island. Can I get that from you (to Mr. Colby)?

Mr. Colby: You can have what we have, but it isn’t much.

Secretary Kissinger: We have to find out what the situation on the ground is first, then we can decide who we will support.

Mr. Colby: We aren’t getting much information. We are getting some traffic now on military moves, but it isn’t much.

Secretary Kissinger: (to Mr. Colby) Give me a situation report by the end of the day. Today we will concentrate our moves on Athens and Turkey. We want a clear reading on what the Turks want. Tomorrow we can take up the internal situation.

Mr. Clements: What are the Greeks doing? What is their objective in this?

Mr. Colby: They want to take over the country. They think that Makarios is nothing but a bloody Communist.

Secretary Kissinger: We have to keep the Turks and the Soviets out of this. We must see how the internal situation on Cyprus evolves.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–096, Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings. Top Secret; Codeword. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House.
  2. Not attached and not found.
  3. Kissinger phoned Callaghan at 10:15 a.m. (Transcript of telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 384, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  4. Telegram 8934 from London, July 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)