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34. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cyprus1

57270. Subject: Cyprus Negotiations: Cyprus Ambassador’s Call on Under Secretary Habib.

1. Cypriot Ambassador Dimitriou called on Under Secretary Habib March 11 for discussion current U.S. views on Cyprus prior Ambassador’s departure March 13 for brief visit to Cyprus. Counselor-designate Nimetz also present.

2. Habib and Nimetz explained why Clifford had returned from Eastern Mediterranean in cautiously optimistic mood, convinced that March 31 intercommunal negotiations represented important opportunity for progress and that Cyprus settlement could be achieved in 1977. What was necessary first step was for both sides to honor commitments they had made to Clifford. We were beginning to receive indications that this might not occur and Habib asked Dimitriou to personally stress to Makarios importance we attach to having realistic proposals placed on table in Vienna. Greek Cypriots had agreed to produce map to serve as basis for concrete territorial discussions and Turks had said they would provide outline for structure of future government. It was vital that both sides lived up to these promises.

3. Nimetz went on to explain that a way had to be found, preferably before both parties got to Vienna of arriving at procedures whereby territorial and constitutional issues can be discussed simultaneously. Greek Cypriots could not expect territorial issues to be considered first and constitutional issues tackled only when Greek and Turkish zones had been finally determined. Any number of ways could be found to produce simultaneous discussions of territorial and constitutional questions and we trust Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots would work with UN Special Representative de Cuellar in Cyprus to develop acceptable procedures in next week or two.

4. On timing, Nimetz said that we looked forward to six or seven days of substantive discussion in Vienna and hoped subsequent Easter recess would be relatively short. There seemed no reason why talks could not resume and continue for several additional weeks in April. Nimetz agreed with Dimitriou that Vienna was a better site than Nic[Page 130]osia for sustained, serious talks but indicated our understanding of Denktash’s preference for a Cyprus venue.

5. U.S. role: Nimetz indicated we would remain active, consulting closely with the parties and with UN officials over the next two weeks and as the talks progress. He said we understand the Archbishop’s delicate position and the importance of avoiding any appearance of putting pressure on him; newspaper stories alleging that we, or the EC–9, planned such pressure were untrue.2

6. Toward end of conversation Dimitriou asked about the Administration’s plans with respect to the Turkish-U.S. security relationship. Nimetz responded that the U.S. intended to work to restore close U.S.-Turkish ties and would thus endorse U.S.-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement in principle. Administration would not, however, press for its immediate approval by Congress but would instead, as interim measure, work for legislation for FY 1978 that would permit Turks to make cash and credit military equipment purchases in U.S. in somewhat larger amounts than were possible in the last two fiscal years.

7. Dimitriou said reports from Cyprus about the Clifford mission had been most encouraging and that when he returned to Nicosia, he would carefully present to President Makarios the positions Habib and Nimetz had outlined.

Vance
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770089–0022. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Nuel L. Pazdral (EUR/SE) and Ledsky; cleared by Ledsky, Barbour, Nimetz, and Sebastian (S/S); approved by Habib. Sent for information Immediate to Ankara, Athens, London, and USUN.
  2. Reference is likely to Bernard D. Nossiter, “Clifford Said to Expect Cyprus Breakthrough in March,” The Washington Post, March 1, 1977, p. A7. The article quoted Clifford as having warned Makarios to be flexible at the Vienna talks or “his friends would lose interest in Cyprus,” and that the intercommunal dispute in Cyprus was of “minimal concern” when compared to the Carter administration’s goal of restoring full military cooperation with Turkey.