238. Memorandum From A. Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Malta—Mintoff’s Latest Ultimatum

On December 25, Prime Minister Mintoff informed the British that UK forces will not be permitted to stay on Malta beyond December 31 unless the UK accepts Malta’s demands for adequate rent. Further, Mintoff said that talks on a new defense agreement can only be resumed if the UK is willing to pay the difference between the 18 million pounds per year requested by the Maltese and the 9.5 million pounds per year offered by the UK, with 4.25 million additional to be paid by December 31 (telegram at Tab A).2

On December 23, Mintoff began preparing the members of his government and the Maltese public—via the press—for a showdown with [Page 765]the UK. And, as you know, this most recent ultimatum follows Mintoff’s message to the UK of December 20 stating that unless Lord Carrington returned to Malta before midnight December 24 prepared to discuss Mintoff’s demands for 18 million pounds per year, Mintoff would “take all necessary measures to protect Maltese interests.” Mintoff repeated this demand on December 22 following receipt of a reply from Carrington which reminded him that Carrington had offered to come the preceding week and was prepared to come the following week, but that he could not now arrange a visit before the end of December or early January.

It is our understanding that the UK plans on Wednesday, December 29, to inform NAC of its proposed response to Mintoff. We are informing State that the White House will wish to clear outgoing instructions to US Mission NATO on this subject. If the US is to prevent a breakdown of the UK-Malta negotiations (in keeping with US policy as stated in NSDM 138—Tab B),3 it is possible that based on the UK position as presented to NAC this Wednesday, a decision will have to be taken on whether or not to increase the US contribution to the UK (NATO) package.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 622, Country Files—Middle East, Malta, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for urgent information.
  2. Not printed. The text of Mintoff’s note together with an analysis of the situation was contained in telegram 1408 from Valletta, December 25. Mintoff’s message was dated December 24. The British Embassy delivered a copy to the U.S. Embassy on the morning of December 25.
  3. Printed as Document 237.