243. Telegram From the Embassy in Malta to the Department of State1

97. Subj: Malta: Mintoff Jan 10 Message to President. Ref: Valletta 0084.2

1. Following is full text Mintoff Jan 10 message to President:

Quote. Dear Mr. President,

A. In my message of yesterday, I have been too eager to accept at their face value the assurances given by Mr. Heath of an orderly and friendly withdrawal of British troops.

B. In reply to my conciliatory message of last Sunday, I have today received a reply from Mr. Heath 3 which imposes conditions for withdrawal more appropriate for a conquered enemy than for a friendly nation whose only blame is to have tolerated a British presence for 171 years.

C. Mr. Heath expects to have sole control of essential facilities on the island, such as the airport, for an unspecified and undetermined period. He wishes to enforce this control by the presence of armed commandos who were originally allowed into Malta for repelling potential aggressions from Warsaw Pact countries against members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

D. I hope it is now clear to you how every time we bend backwards and show sweet reasonableness, we are promptly repaid by the British Government by a blow in the stomach.

E. Britain’s intention seems to be at best to prevent Malta from having friendly relations with any of her allies, at worst to hang on in Malta as long as possible in the expectation of overthrowing Malta’s democratically elected government.

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F. I am, therefore, at a loss to see in what way Malta can avoid alerting the Security Council of the United Nations to the grave dangers through which we are passing.

Sincerely yours, Dom Mintoff. Unquote.

2. Text of covering letter to me as follows:


A. I am very sorry to trouble you again. You will, however, understand how important it is for your President to be kept au courant.

B. I will, therefore, appreciate your transmitting as soon as possible my new message to your President and the enclosed copies of the latest correspondence between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and myself. Unquote

3. Mintoff response to Heath Jan 10 message given to me at virtually same time as delivered to HICOM.

4. In order give wider distribution texts of Jan 10 exchange between Heath and Mintoff transmitted immediately following septel.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 622, Country Files—Middle East, Malta, Vol. II. Secret; Flash; Exdis.
  2. Dated January 9. It transmitted the text of a message from Mintoff to Nixon in which, inter alia, the Maltese Prime Minister thanked the President for the speed of his reply to his January 7 communication, expressed the view that an accord existed for the withdrawal of British forces, and, while condemning the British Government for its unwillingness to accept his demands, indicated his readiness to negotiate a settlement favorable to Western interests. (Ibid.) Regarding the President’s message to Mintoff, see footnote 7, Document 241.
  3. Copies of the exchanges between Prime Ministers Heath and Mintoff are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 622, Country Files—Middle East, Malta, Vol. II.
  4. Transmitted in telegram 98 from Valletta, January 10. (Ibid.)