240. Message From President Nixon to British Prime Minister Heath 1

WH 11243. Your December 29 review of the Maltese situation2 is very helpful. I share your concern over the current inflexibility of the Maltese position, as evidenced by the ultimatum contained in Prime Minister Mintoff’s message to you of December 29, and I agree that [Page 767]little good could have come from accepting the terms of that ultimatum.

At the same time, I believe that it is in the interests of both our countries, indeed, in the interests of the North Atlantic Alliance, for you to continue to seek the successful negotiation of a new defense arrangement with Malta, and I am pleased that you share this view. Accordingly, I think it will be essential to continue to keep the door open for resumption of talks as soon as possible. The role played by your forces on Malta has a most important bearing on the strategic balance in the Mediterranean. Removal of those forces could only have an adverse effect on global stability and prospects for peace.

It is with this conviction that the United States has been lending its full support to your efforts to reach agreement with Malta. We are prepared to make an increase in our contribution to your negotiating offer in order to reach agreement with the Maltese.

I look forward to staying in close touch with you on this matter. Although I wish they were included instead in a message on a brighter subject, I also send you my best personal best wishes for the coming year.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 764, Presidential Correspondence, United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Document 239.
  3. In a January 4, 1972, reply, Heath outlined his immediate policy and urged continued close cooperation. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 764, Presidential Correspondence, United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath)