141. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to the Department of State1

Secto 4118. (U) Subject: NAC Ministerial: Secretary Vance’s Bilateral With Turkish Foreign Minister Okcun.

1. (S-entire text).

2. Summary: Turkish Foreign Minister Okcun in May 31 conversation with Secretary Vance focused on U.S./Turkish bilateral relations. Relationship should be improved through concrete developments in areas such as co-production and quickening of the military pipeline deliveries. Okcun urged rapid movement on U.S./Turkish base negotiations along the lines of the Turkish scenario for these negotiations. He also stressed the need for U.S. support in the OECD context. Okcun conveyed to Secretary Prime Minister Ecevit’s gratitude for U.S. efforts on military assistance to Turkey and in OECD. Okcun expressed hope for movement in Cyprus intercommunal discussions and said that Kyprianou must give up his idea of a unitary state. On other matters, Okcun stressed Turkish concern with events in the Iran/Afghanistan “crescent.” Secretary responded that he would follow-up on bilateral issues Okcun had raised. He described our policy vis-a-vis Iran and the PLO. End summary.

3. Present for bilateral on U.S. side were Counselor Nimetz, Ambassador Bennett, Assistant Secretary Vest, and note taker. Turkish participants were Ambassador Sahinbas, who is responsible for U.S./Turkish base negotiations and Ali Hikmet Alp of MFA.

4. Secretary Vance told Okcun that he had enjoyed latter’s interventions during NATO Ministerial even though he didn’t agree with all of them. He asked what subjects Okcun wanted to take up.

5. Okcun said that U.S./Turkish bilateral relations were of great importance. When Ecevit government came to office in early 1978 it had stressed this point and had hoped for more progress than had actually been achieved. Turkey now looks forward to concrete results and projects in order to sell U.S./Turkish cooperation to the Turkish public. [Page 430] Relationship could thus be improved on a lasting basis of benefit to both countries and the region. Secretary said he shared these objectives and asked what can be done. He said he had the impression that a number of things were underway such as co-production.

6. Okcun said that a U.S. co-production team was in fact in Ankara this week and that something should start in this area. Another area of great interest to the military was facilitating the flow of military material through the pipeline to Turkey. He added that specific examples of U.S./Turkish cooperation, such as a plant or a co-production project could be used to create a good public image.

7. Secretary Vance said he was very much in favor of this and was willing to take a look at any concrete suggestions made by the Turks as well as coming up with our own ideas. He asked Okcun to let him know personally if there was any delay in the delivery of military equipment.

8. Okcun said as an example that over the last 15 months, construction of a plant should have started. He noted that Counselor Nimetz had come to Ankara in February of last year and nothing had occurred in the area of economic cooperation since then. (Secretary and Nimetz objected to this sweeping statement.) Okcun argued again that Turkey wants a concrete, politically justifiable and feasible relationship with the U.S. which over the long term would be of interest to both countries as well as democracy and the free world. Secretary said he agreed and Okcun said it was necessary to work out the details.

9. Okcun then moved to the status of U.S./Turkey base negotiations and asked Ambassador Sahinbas to describe the current situation. Sahinbas outlined the Turkish concept of a defense cooperation “umbrella” agreement with four supplemental agreements. He described the meetings with Ambassador Spiers and on the working group level. The previous 1969 DCA had been based on Article 3 of the NATO Charter; current Turkish drafts were based on both Articles 2 and 3.2 Demonstrating the link between economic and defense matters, Sahinbas said that all their drafts had been given to the U.S. Embassy which had passed them to Washington. Turkey was now waiting for Washington comments and instructions to its Embassy.

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10. Secretary asked when these agreements had been received in Washington. Counselor Nimetz said that we had had them for about three weeks. Secretary promised to give impetus to this process. Okcun said that this was very important in view of the expiration in October of this year of the deadline for completing the DCA. He said U.S. may have some difficulties with Turkish recommendations but it would be better to follow Turkish patterns, i.e. the “umbrella” concept with supplemental agreements. Okcun thought that such an agreement could pass both Turkish Parliament and U.S. Congress.

11. Okcun continued that Turkish concept of the DCA was a matter of substance, not just form. Secretary asked him to elaborate. Okcun said that Turkey sees its military relationship with U.S. as embodied in the concepts of defense procurement, economic cooperation, co-production and installations. These can be worked out in a practical fashion through the four supplemental agreements under an umbrella agreement and could be presented successfully to the Parliament. Secretary asked that Nimetz get response to Turkish proposals to him as soon as possible. Nimetz commented that the Turkish proposals represented a serious effort, that we were working hard on them and will do our best to frame our response in a way as close as possible to the form Turkey prefers.

12. Okcun said his third major point in the context of our bilateral relations was the need for U.S. support for Turkey with institutions such as the OECD and the World Bank as well as other Alliance countries and Japan. Okcun noted that Japan had been somewhat “shy” possibly because of U.S. He added that when he had been in Tokyo Japanese had told him that Turkey and Japan were two great countries which did not need an intermediary.

13. Secretary responded that he thought he was doing the Turks a favor by talking to the Japanese, pointing out Japanese had increased their contribution to the OECD package. Okcun said he did not know whether this was due to Secretary’s efforts with Japanese or his own. Secretary Vance continued with regard to the World Bank, that he had already talked to Bank President McNamara and urged latter’s cooperation on the Turkish problem. McNamara had said he would personally pursue the matter. Secretary added that he was prepared to keep in touch with McNamara on this issue if Turks wanted; if they did not think it would be helpful he would desist. Okcun indicated that further such efforts by Secretary would be appreciated.

14. Okcun then shifted discussion to Middle East situation. Said he had recently visited Saudi Arabia and Iran and was very concerned about Middle East “Balkanization,” which was taking place from Afghanistan to Syria. He said that further deterioration would endanger the region and was creating problems for Turkey as well. There were [Page 432] real dangers in such developments; no Western countries, including Israel, should stimulate “Balkanization” since Soviets would then enter on scene and create separate satellites or small political entities.

15. Secretary said his view on Iran had been clear from the outset. Situation in Iran was a domestic matter for Iranians. The U.S. would not interfere and cannot accept interference by others. He has adhered to this policy and both he and President Carter have been severely criticized as a result. However, the policy is right. There is a true revolution in Iran and outside intervention would only exacerbate the situation. We wish the current government well, have decent friendly relations with Prime Minister Bazargan but will not push and will keep a low profile. We will let relations develop as Iranians want. Secretary said he saw real problems for stability of Bazargan government because of dual form of government in Iran. U.S. will stay out, but this does not lessen our concern.

16. Okcun stressed the need for non-interference in the area at every level including the secret service. Conflict involving the Kurds in Iran is of great concern to Turkey. Turkey makes clear to everybody, including USSR, that dismemberment of Iran would have serious political implications for the region as a whole. Okcun noted that U.S. has “arranged” the Chinese side of things, and with SALT II European matters are going reasonably well. The most difficult current problem is in the “crescent” from Ethiopia/Somalia to Afghanistan.

17. Secretary responded that he has theory that one must deal with facts and problems in each country. Countries such as Iran and Pakistan are not identical and considering them as such risks oversimplification. Okcun responded he agreed and did not want to oversimplify. However Turkey attached great importance to its economic cooperation in the region and felt that this would contribute to regional stability. Secretary said there was no doubt of this and that all of us see Turkey as a great factor for stability. There is no difference in the U.S. on this.

18. Okcun asked if Israel was “cooking up” something in Iran. Secretary responded that there was no question of this. Initially there had been real concern about the Jewish population in Iran. Fear of a purge had caused tremors both in Israel and the U.S., however, both Ayatollah Khomeini and Bazargan had spoken out against such a purge as against Islamic tenets. There was nothing to the report of Israeli meddling in Iran.

19. Okcun then asked how U.S. intended to repair its image with the Arabs. Secretary noted that Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia would probably be coming to the U.S. by the end of summer or early fall, King Hussein about the same time and King Hassan of Morocco had visited already. U.S. has sent emissaries to the Gulf states. However, the real [Page 433] indicator will be progress in the negotiations, particularly on the Palestinian issue.

20. Okcun asked if the U.S. should get in touch with the PLO. Secretary described in some detail U.S. efforts to make openings toward the PLO based on different interpretations of UN Resolution 242 and the possibility of the PLO dealing with the U.S. through West Bank Palestinians. Secretary said that Arafat is aware of his efforts, has not responded as yet, although they were close at one point.

21. Secretary said that Turkey seems to think it was necessary to re-write 242 but he thought this would be immensely complicated. We have made progress and now even Israel has agreed that the Palestinian issue cannot be swept under the rug. Thus the concerns of Arafat have been met to a large extent. Arafat has indicated he doesn’t want to play his trump card. Secretary said his view is that it is time to stop playing games and make some progress.

22. Okcun said that Prime Minister Ecevit had asked him to express his satisfaction to Secretary about U.S. efforts with the Congress on Turkish military assistance and the U.S. efforts in the OECD context. This shows that the U.S. has stopped following the policy of linkage. Secretary asked Okcun to please pass his respects to Prime Minister Ecevit. Okcun said that U.S. has a good friend in Turkey. Secretary responded that he hoped the Turks felt the same way about the U.S. Okcun said that the Secretary should have no doubts about this.

23. Secretary promised follow-up on matters that Okcun had raised. Latter concluded conversation with comment on Cyprus to effect that he hoped that June 15 intercommunal talks will start as scheduled. He said it was necessary to convince Kyprianou to abandon the idea of a Cypriot unitary state. Denktash, according to Okcun, believes that Kyprianou has not abandoned this concept. Secretary said he would have to study the ten points.3 Okcun said in fact Greek Cypriots had given nothing in the ten points.

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 9, Vance NODIS MemCons, 1979. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information to Ankara, Athens, Nicosia, USNATO, and USNMR SHAPE. In a May 31 covering memorandum to Jack Perry (S/S), Art Hughes (S/S–S) noted that Vance had agreed to the following “action commitments:” 1) “give impetus to preparation of comments on Turkey DCA drafts;” 2) “keep in touch with McNamara of World Bank regarding Bank’s cooperation on Turkish economic problems.” (Ibid.) Vance was in Madrid June 1–2 for a meeting of the U.S.-Spanish Council after leaving the Hague where he attended the NATO Ministerial meeting May 29–31.
  2. Article 2 of the NATO Charter reads: “The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being. They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.” Article 3 of the NATO Charter reads: “In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of the Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.”
  3. See Document 67.