701.9111/555: Telegram

The Chargé in Iran ( Merriam ) to the Secretary of State

34. Motamedi, Chief of the Third Political Division, asked me to see him this morning. He had been instructed by the Foreign Minister to say that unless American press articles offensive to the Shah should cease at once the Iranian Government would be obliged to sever all diplomatic and economic relations with the United States. Displaying clippings from the Washington Post dated March 31 and April 5 and from the Louisville Post of April 1, he said his Government expected that such articles would cease following withdrawal of its representatives but that they had continued without interruption. He asked whether my Government could not do something to stop repugnant comments whereupon I thoroughly went over the ground covered in the long aide-mémoire described in paragraph 1 of my telegram No. 33, May 9, 5 p.m.

He made the suggestion which he asked me to communicate that the Secretary of State might call in correspondents and ask them to desist from writing items derogatory to the Shah and to Iran and emphasize the harmful effects to American trade which would result if this were not done. He made it clear that the severance of economic relations would mean complete stoppage of Iranian imports from the United States. I pointed out to him that reciprocal measures of this kind would hurt Iran more than ourselves and promised to communicate his remarks and the reply of my Government.

Department’s telegram 24, May 15, 5 p.m. I am convinced likewise that Kazemi suggested constitutional amendment is an oversimplification. My despatch No. 74311 is not a confirmation but merely reported Mr. Hornibrook’s summary analysis of the results of [Page 365] his conversations with the Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and other high officials on March 15th. I believe that Mr. Hornibrook himself said on his own initiative purely as a measure to gain time and without promising results that he would do what he could to secure constitutional amendment upon his return and that Kazemi merely expressed hope and expectation of success. Rejection of special mission on this uncertain ground is undesirable. As the idea has been decently buried for considerations that seem adequate to the Foreign Office I hesitate to reopen this unpleasant subject involving the press without further instructions particularly in view of the main subject of this telegram.

A special mission might save the present situation though probably only temporarily.

My relations with Iranians have been perfectly friendly and correct and I have not given and will not give the impression that the Legation will not carry on. I have, however, felt bound to advise American interests to tread carefully.

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