230. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Mintoff Pleads for US Support

With the memorandum at Tab A , Dick Helms reports on a [less than 1 line not declassified] conversation [less than 1 line not declassified] during which Mintoff made an impassioned plea for the US to put pressure on the British through NATO; or to consider what the US could give NATO if the British withdraw; or to send a high-level representative to discuss the situation with him. He repeatedly stressed the seriousness of Malta’s financial situation and the need for a solution prior to the reconvening of the Maltese Parliament in August.

The Helms’ memorandum would appear to present us with a very important opportunity to work out a successful solution to your Maltese problems. In my memorandum proposing a game plan for Malta (Tab B, Log # 30925X), I suggested that we will have to move quickly and decisively if we are to realize our objectives of retaining a US and NATO presence in Malta. Mintoff appears to have given us our opening.

Two immediate steps would appear to be in order:

Feldman should be immediately contacted (before he unknowingly pays an unofficial visit on Mintoff) and told that you will want to touch base with him before he visits Mintoff.

Mintoff should be informed [less than 1 line not declassified] that he can expect to hear from Feldman in the very near future, and that Feldman will be carrying high-level credentials.

Once these steps have been taken, it would be possible to begin working out the details of coordinated UK and US negotiations with Mintoff along the lines suggested in the memorandum at Tab B. (The fact that Ambassador Pritzlaff is aware of the [less than 1 line not declassified] conversation would appear to ease if not eliminate the difficulties we earlier had with him about having an emissary visit Mintoff.)

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1. [less than 1 line not declassified] inform Mintoff that he will be hearing from a high-level US representative in the very near future.

2. That you have Ambassador Feldman contacted and told to stand by for instructions prior to visiting Mintoff.

3. That you approve the supporting actions recommended in the memorandum at Tab B.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 622, Country Files—Middle East, Malta, Vol. I. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for very urgent action. A notation on the first page reads: “thru Haig”. The tabs are not printed.
  2. Kissinger initialed his approval of all three recommendations. In an attached July 29 note, Haig wrote Kissinger: “Hal is exactly right. This is what I have been trying to get done against a degree of bureaucratic stalling on the part of State and Defense—money being the problem on the part of Defense and State Department timidity being the problem in State. I am confident that we can move this thing if we pursue Hal’s suggestion with Feldman and the game plan prepared by Hal . . . Please give this your most urgent attention or another critical asset will drift away.” Kissinger annotated the note: “let’s move.”