98. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Robert Ingersoll
  • State
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • Dean Brown
  • John Day
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Amos Jordan
  • Harry Bergold
  • JCS
  • LTG John W. Pauly
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Rosemary Niehuss
  • David Ransom
  • Col. Clinton Granger
  • James Barnum

Amb. Ingersoll: I am sorry gentlemen, but we have been on the telephone to the Secretary,2 who has been talking with Callaghan to get the British views.3 The British have promised to send us a cable [Page 325] this afternoon on Joe’s (Mr. Sisco) visit and the British position. We’ll have it for you all shortly. Bill (Mr. Colby), do you have a briefing?

Mr. Colby briefed from the attached text.4

Amb. Ingersoll: Bill, (Mr. Clements) do you have any views?

Mr. Clements: Bill (Mr. Colby) and I, we were talking about the situation before you came in. We have the same information that he has and are in substantial agreement. I would like to bring up the amphibious forces, however. As you know, we have ordered our amphibious group—with your concurrence—to move to about one hundred to fifty miles off Cyprus.

Amb. Ingersoll: How long do you estimate it will take them to get there?

Mr. Clements: Well, we’re thinking in terms of ten hours. That is, ten hours to the beach.

Amb. Ingersoll: Is that ten hours from where they are holding or from the one hundred miles away?

Mr. Clements: From the one hundred miles out. We could cut the time if we need to.

(Messrs. Ingersoll, Kennedy and Stabler were called to the phone at 2:52 p.m. and returned at 3:02 p.m.)

Mr. Stabler: That was the Secretary.5 He had just received a message from Joe (Mr. Sisco) on the Athens visit. It is not clear if he saw Ioannidis. We’re not clear on that, but it probably was not possible. Joe said that the British Ambassador saw Ioannidis yesterday. Bill (Mr. Clements), do you have anything to add?

Mr. Clements: Only what I said before you left, that we have moved the units closer to the island; but I want to stress that the orders that have gone to the fleet are that they move for evacuation purposes only, not for intervention. The other thing we’re doing is beginning the process of drawing up some contingency plans, but they are purely contingency.

[Page 326]

Amb. Ingersoll: Yes, we at State have also told our escape and evacuation people to get ready. We have made no moves, just have asked them to get their plans up to date. I think it would be wise at this time to move the amphibious forces in closer.

Mr. Clements: Yes, they’re moving in now. You might want to mention what the Secretary decided to do yesterday.

Amb. Ingersoll: Yes, the Secretary suggested…

(Amb. Ingersoll was called to the phone at 3:05 p.m. and returned at 3:10 p.m.)6

Amb. Ingersoll: Have we received that wire from Joe (Mr. Sisco)?

Amb. McCloskey: No. I understand we won’t see it until we get back to the Department.

Amb. Ingersoll: Why don’t we have it sent here?

Amb. McCloskey: Why not.

(Mr. Kennedy instructed the Situation Room.)

Amb. Ingersoll: Bob (Amb. McCloskey) would you like to explain our position to the people here on what we plan to tell the Turks, that we’re not opposed to Makarios, but are against Sampson. By the way, the Secretary is meeting with Makarios here on Monday.

Amb. McCloskey: I don’t know if you have seen the instructions to Ankara,7 but the emphasis is on convincing the Turks that military action won’t settle the problem on Cyprus or in the area as a whole, and would only invite Greek counter activities. It explains that we don’t support enosis and that we’re working to find a diplomatic solution that all will agree with. We have no U.S. proposals to make at this point, but are thinking of possible alternatives. It’s our thinking that if the Turks insist on the return of Makarios this can have only a destabilizing impact on the island and on the area as a whole because we think that Makarios will have to turn to the left inside the country and out in order to remain in power. Joe (Mr. Sisco) can raise the name of Clerides as a possibility, but not as a U.S. idea, of a compromise solution.

Mr. Clements: Have we said this publicly?

Amb. McCloskey: At State we have. We are saying that we think that a military solution is completely out of the question and that we are working for a solution through diplomatic processes. Privately we are thinking about alternatives.

[Page 327]

Mr. Clements: But we are not saying that we are looking for a plan to end this thing.

Amb. McCloskey: No, I think that probably we have taken enough of a beating. I think that by Makarios coming here and the Secretary seeing him on Monday8 this will tend to dim some of the criticism. Also, Senator Fulbright will see him (Makarios) on Monday, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee has made a similar invitation. One thing. This may not be a proper question to raise here, but apparently there is concern as to Makarios’ security while in the U.S. There have been some threats to his safety and the ambassador has asked us to supply him with a plane from New York to Washington on Monday. My inclination is not to do this.

Mr. Clements: Why?

Amb. McCloskey: Well, there is a fine diplomatic line here that you may not understand. What we are trying to say diplomatically is that we neither support Makarios or any other person. The fact that Makarios has been acknowledged by the Security Council, and if we supply him a plane, gives the impression that our position is one of leaning toward Makarios. This we want to avoid at the time being. This may be over worked, but…

Mr. Colby: There are dozens of planes we could charter that would avoid the whole problem.

Mr. Clements: Frankly the problem is completely lost on me. If we are worried about his security, let’s give him an unmarked air force jet. We could make it small and one with no insignia.

Amb. McCloskey: Their request is based on a security threat. I wouldn’t…

Mr. Lauder: The report came from a good source [less than 1 line not declassified] saying that orders have been given to assassinate Makarios anytime and anywhere in the world. Now, it is only one source and one report. We have no back up. We passed this on to the Secret Service because we felt we should. You can never tell about these things.

Amb. Ingersoll: Bill (Mr. Colby)?

Mr. Colby: Nothing to add to what George said. I don’t think he should fly in Air America, however!

Amb. Ingersoll: We’ll think about that. Should we talk a little about what happens if the Turks land? What should we do?

Mr. Clements: We’ve thought a little about that, but have had no real chance to discuss it. There are several plans we could enact, like [Page 328] embark by air, or take them to British base areas. There are all kinds of things we could do to protect our nationals. That is our sole mission at this point, protecting our nationals, right?

Amb. Ingersoll: Yes, that is all we are talking about. What is the complement of the amphibious forces?

Gen. Pauly: There is a total of five ships. There is one LPH and two LPDs. There are some 1800 marines on the LPH. In addition, there are 14 helicopters that could be used to evacuate personnel.

Amb. Ingersoll: Then you could evacuate all of the American personnel.

Mr. Clements: Sure. What we want is a secure situation on the shore, before we act. This we are going to have to get from you (State). We will have plans to cover all evacuation. All State has to decide is when.

Amb. Ingersoll: We will know better when we get a feel from Athens and Ankara.

Mr. Colby: There is also the British. They have some 5,000 Royal Air Force personnel on the island and 2,700 army.

Mr. Lauder: There are a great many tourists still on the island.

Amb. Ingersoll: Do we know how many are off yet?

Mr. Lauder: No.

Amb. Ingersoll: From what I have read, it sounds like the Berlin Airlift. Is there a port at the British base?

Mr. Lauder: The big port is at Famagusta. There is also a base there.

Mr. Colby: There is also a port at Larnaca.

Mr. Clements: One of the things that Joe (Mr. Sisco) is doing down in Ankara is impressing the Turks on the necessity of getting our civilians out of there, I hope.

Amb. Ingersoll: I have tried to reach the British Ambassador today but he is out. There is also a message coming in saying what they plan to do (regarding evacuation on Cyprus).

(Mr. Ingersoll was handed the attached cable from Athens (4269).9

Amb. McCloskey: (reading from cable) The Greeks have agreed to send someone to London to consult the UK as guarantor power in the spirit of the London–Zurich Agreement.

Amb. Ingersoll: At least he has something to talk about.

Mr. Colby: The real problem is getting the Turks to hold up an invasion until Monday.

[Page 329]

Mr. Clements: We could leave them out there in those small boats; they’ll be good and sick by that time.

Amb. Ingersoll: I believe this brings us up to date. We’ll have to see now how Joe does in Ankara. I believe you all should keep close. We’ll meet tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.

Mr. Kennedy: (to Mr. Ingersoll) I suggest that a WSAG Working Group be established to develop the various issues and options open to us in the event the Turks invade Cyprus. I also think it a good idea that the Working Group be kept in being at all times so it can do options studies for the WSAG as the situation develops.

Amb. Ingersoll: Good. (to all) We’ll set up a Working Group, and each of you name a principal. The first meeting of the Group should take place this afternoon.

  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. Kissinger, who was in San Clemente, spoke with McCloskey, Ingersoll, Stabler, and Buffum at 9:30 a.m. (EDT); McCloskey soon thereafter; and McCloskey, Ingersoll, and Stabler at 11:35 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 384, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  3. Ambassador Ramsbotham called Kissinger at 2:05 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 384, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File) and transmitted a letter from Callaghan. (Ibid., Box 123, Geopolitical File, Chronological File) Kissinger and Ramsbotham discussed the differences in emphasis in the positions of their respective governments despite having the same overall policy toward Cyprus, owing to the fact that Britain remained a guarantor power of Cyprus.
  4. Attached but not printed. Colby related information about Turkish military movements, which indicated that a Turkish invasion would occur July 21 or 22 or possibly earlier. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–097, Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings)
  5. Reference is to a group of phone calls made in the few minutes before and the first few minutes of the WSAG meeting. Kissinger talked to Ingersoll, McCloskey, Stabler, and Kennedy at 2:30 p.m. (EDT); French Foreign Minister Sauvagnargues at 2:45 p.m.; and McCloskey, Ingersoll, and Stabler at 2:50 p.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 384, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
  6. Kissinger called Ingersoll at 3:05 p.m. (EDT) and relayed his instructions for comments to the press. Kissinger wanted to emphasize that there was no American plan, only that the United States was discussing ideas designed to prevent a Greek-Turkish war and to restore constitutional rule. (Ibid.)
  7. Telegram 156801 to Ankara, July 19. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  8. July 22.
  9. Attached but not printed; the preliminary number was 4269.