94. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • John Day
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Amos Jordan
  • Harry Bergold
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • Lt. Gen. John W. Pauly
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Rosemary Niehuss
  • David Ransom
  • James Barnum


It was agreed that:

  • —the JCS would draw up a list of what units were available in the U.S. and Europe for movement to Cyprus, and how long it would take to move those units to the island;
  • —that the carrier Forrestal and the amphibious task force would stay 24 hours distant from Cyprus at the present time; and
  • —there would be no cut-off of military aid to Greece.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Colby)?

Mr. Colby briefed from the attached text.2

[Page 314]

Secretary Kissinger: What’s this you’re talking about?

Mr. Colby: The Soviet statement (on its position on the dispute).

(The Secretary left the room to take a phone call at 11:45 and returned at 11:51)

Mr. Colby continued to brief.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Clements)?

Mr. Clements: I don’t have a lot to say. We do have this report that DIA

Secretary Kissinger: The one about Soviet forces at Odessa?

Mr. Clements: No, the one about [less than 1 line not declassified]. We got it through your Sit Room. I think you have seen it already. We tend to discount the information since [less than 1 line not declassified] are not going to publish it until this afternoon.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, I don’t put much credence in that. I don’t think that would happen while Ecevit is in London. George (General Brown)?

General Brown: There’s only one small point of concern to us. As you know, our naval forces are now in a holding pattern—well to the west of Cyprus as we discussed the other day. The amphibious forces are 24 hours away from Cyprus. Do you think it would be wise to permit them to come closer, say 10 to 12 hours from the island?

Mr. Clements: One thing that bears on that, Henry. You know we have several military programs—hardware—ongoing with the Greek regime. You may want to play with that one. I am not advocating we stop the program, just that you may want to consider it.

Secretary Kissinger: Okay, I’ll think about that.

General Brown: Another thing. We have not upgraded any alerts. I don’t know whether you might want to or not.

Secretary Kissinger: I don’t see any reason at this point. It would only draw attention, wouldn’t it? The Soviets would know that we have upped our alert status. How long would it take the 82nd Airborne, for example, to get to Cyprus if we had to?

General Brown: There’s one company on two hour alert at all times at Fayetteville (North Carolina). It would take C130s to get them over there. They could be loaded in about two hours, but it would take about twelve hours to get them to Cyprus. I would say it would take 18 hours to get one or two battalions there.

Secretary Kissinger: (to General Brown) Can I get a chart on how long it would take to send troops over there? Could we slightly increase the alert?

General Brown: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s a bit premature to increase the alert now. No need at this point.

[Page 315]

General Brown: There are, of course, other units in Europe and Germany that we could send on a quicker basis.

Secretary Kissinger: Get me a chart of the units available and how much time it would take from each place—here and in Europe. Can you do that? By the end of the day?

Mr. Clements: Sure. That amphibious force, however, is still what we want to count on; it’s the closest.

General Brown: Yes, but it’s 24 hours away from Cyprus right now. Maybe we should move them to within, say, ten hours distance.

Secretary Kissinger: No, I don’t think we should make any movements now. I think it’s premature. If the Soviets find out—and they will—they might misunderstand. We don’t know what this Odessa thing is anyway.

Mr. Colby: How long would it take a division to get there? Five or six days?

General Brown: At least. It would probably take a battalion about the same time.

Mr. Clements: Our best bet is still that amphibious group.

Secretary Kissinger: How many British troops are on the island?

General Brown: I think it’s about 8,000.

Secretary Kissinger: Are those all combat units?

General Brown: Some are. Some are housekeeping units. Not all, I’m sure, would fight.

Secretary Kissinger: I want to know what we have. Get me that chart.

Mr. Colby: I think I have it here, 2,700 British army troops and 5,300 Royal Air Force personnel.

Secretary Kissinger: The UN Security Council meets today.3 We have instructed our delegation to delay a vote on the resolution, if they can. We want to assess the Sisco diplomatic effort from London first. We have to find out first what is negotiable between the Greeks and the Turks. I agree that an ideal solution would be to get negotiations started, within the Zurich framework, towards a solution on which all sides would agree. I know some of my colleagues believe we are advocating the overthrow of the Ioannidis government, but that is not our policy. We still have the Cyprus problem with Turkish intervention. Our first objective is to avoid a Greek-Turkish war and Soviet intervention. We can worry about Ioannidis later. We do not want to tip [Page 316] our hand on a Cyprus solution yet til we know what will come out of it.

Mr. Colby: I’m not sure that we can stall Makarios that long.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we’ll see. But how can you bring him back? It’s fine to say that everybody is behind Makarios—that is easy to proclaim. But the problem still remains of how to bring him back?

Mr. Colby: And we don’t want a split to develop between the U.S. and the Soviets over the Cyprus issue, with the Soviets backing Makarios.

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly. We are not opposed to Makarios. What we want to do is try to avoid taking a stand. It’s bad to get the Security Council involved.

Amb. Ingersoll: Have you heard from Joe (Mr. Sisco)?

Secretary Kissinger: No.

[Omitted here is discussion of an unrelated subject.]

Mr. Clements: We can’t do much til we find out what the British and Joe have been talking about.

Secretary Kissinger: We are not going to come out against Makarios. If he does come back (to power), fine, but it’s better that he comes back with U.S. backing than with Soviet backing. If the Turks go in and restore Makarios, he has no alternative but to lean more towards the Soviets and the Eastern bloc.

Mr. Clements: Exactly right. Let’s let the British move out in front on this thing.

Secretary Kissinger: And see what they offer for our support. If we declare first, the Soviets will get bold and we will give up our bargaining position. If we say that the Greek officers must go, how can they resist the pressure? We have a de facto government on the island and a de jure outside. We must find a compromise between the two. We do not want to elaborate a theme for Soviet intervention, or Turkish. If the Turks and the British want Makarios, then we will reassess.

[Omitted here is discussion of an unrelated subject.]

[Secretary Kissinger:] Now, (returning to the Cyprus problem) on our press line. For the noon briefing we want to say nothing about the Sisco visit. As far as Makarios, play it cool, don’t say anything if you can avoid it. Just repeat our standard line on the territorial integrity of Cyprus.

Mr. Colby: I would like to put in a pitch for what the British and Ecevit talked about.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, of course. But, we don’t have a report yet. Oh, you said Ecevit and the British. I thought you meant Sisco. Ecevit proposed increasing the level of Turkish forces on the island and placing the National Guard under UN control and then Makarios might be [Page 317] able to come back. This, of course, would make Makarios a Turkish stooge and he would then look for a counter to Turkish influence, i.e., the East bloc. This would amount to a total shift in the balance of power on the island in part towards Turkey, but really towards Soviet/East bloc influence. Even the UK is going along; they have pulled back slightly in their public line of support for Makarios. If Makarios accepts to come back, we still have the problem of how to get him back. If the Turks brought him back, he would look for a counter to the Turks. But we have nothing personally against Makarios.

Mr. Colby: How strong is Ioannidis?

Secretary Kissinger: I’m not worried about Ioannidis. If he falls, fine. That doesn’t worry me. Let him fall because of his own incompetence. Getting rid of Ioannidis is no more a worry than keeping Ioannidis; it’s no factor. Preventing a Greek-Turkish war and a shift in the balance of power are factors. I don’t think Ioannidis is going to survive very long anyway.

Mr. Colby: He is the weakest link in the chain.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s not in the interest of the U.S. to cooperate in the fall of Ioannidis. We should walk carefully on this matter and not go off half cocked.

Mr. Stabler: On the Sisco visit. He plans to go to Athens and possibly to Ankara. Should we announce that he is going to Ankara?

Secretary Kissinger: He is not going to Nicosia! What I said was that Sisco would go to Athens but that we can’t confirm that he will go on to Ankara. That depends on the results of his talks in London and Athens.

Amb. Ingersoll: I do think it would be wise, however, to say that he may go on to Turkey, just to bring the Turks into this thing.

Mr. Clements: I have just one quick thing on military sales to Greece.

Secretary Kissinger: I thought we made it clear yesterday that no ambassador will unilaterally decide about military aid programs. That is an interdepartmental matter and should be brought to this group for decision. We should be careful on heavy deliveries of military aid. Don’t stop the stuff already in the pipeline. We’ll know more in one week. I don’t exclude pressure on Greece at some point, but we must wait until we see what kind of position the US/UK/Turk talks produce. But I agree I wouldn’t send the heavy equipment.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files(H–Files), Box H–097, 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. The Security Council began deliberations on July 16, which culminated in Resolution 353 being passed 15–0 on July 20. See Document 109.