111.23/77: Telegram

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

106. Referring to the Legation’s telegram No. 105 October 3 [2], noon. From Murray. The Shah received me this morning and the audience lasted nearly an hour to the astonishment of Palace and Foreign Office officials who had informed me that 15 minutes was the maximum that I might expect to remain with His Majesty.

The Shah opened the conversation by expressing his particular satisfaction that the President had seen fit to send me to Persia on the present visit since His Majesty felt I would be better able than any other to appreciate the significance of what has happened in Persia during the years since I was here.

The Shah listened attentively to the reading in Persian translation of the President’s letter and expressed profuse thanks for the signed original which he said he expected to answer personally. He seemed particularly impressed with the specific references in the letter to his reforms and said he could observe that President’s remarks represented his true sentiments. He added that he fully appreciated the greatness of President Roosevelt and the importance of his program of reform in the United States and could only regret that there was not a more general understanding in the United States of what he, the Shah, was endeavoring to do for Persia. (This was undoubtedly a veiled reference to the American press.)

The Shah then to my surprise referred, but without any sign of resentment, to the Elkton incident,25 whereupon I took the opportunity to reiterate the profound regret we had felt over the matter. I did not however fail to refer to the difficulties arising for us out of the fact that the incident occurred in a jurisdiction beyond the control of the Federal Government and to remind him courteously of the prompt and sincere expressions of regret which both the Secretary of State as well as the Governor of Maryland had conveyed to the Persian Minister in Washington at that time.

The above remarks offered a suitable occasion for me to explain to His Majesty the importance which the President attaches to his policy of the Good Neighbor which was evidenced by my present visit to Persia and by the cordial personal message with which the President had entrusted me for delivery in person to His Majesty. I assured the Shah that my Government and the people of my country entertain feelings of warmest regard for him personally and for the Persian people and I expressed the hope that the past might be forgotten [Page 740]and that we might look forward to a future of mutual trust in each other and fruitful cooperation. I referred in that connection to the substance of the Department’s triple priority circular telegram of September 2726 requesting Persian cooperation during the Czechoslovak crisis and it was clear that our action in that instance had been pleasing to the Shah.

Realizing the pride which the Shah takes in the progress of his program of modernization and reform I took occasion repeatedly during the audience to compare the old Persia that I had known nearly 14 years ago with the new Pahlavi Iran of Reza Shah and stated that even the progress of reform in Turkey had not impressed me more than that in Iran. This remark led the Shah to compare the problems of Persia with those of Turkey and quite properly to state that the difficulties facing him when he started his reforms in Iran were much greater than those facing Atatürk in Turkey by reason of the dark forces of religious fanaticism that were far more powerful and hostile to progress here than they had ever been in Turkey.

As an example of what he had been up against he cited the killing of Vice Consul Imbrie by a fanatic mob in 192427 which he said had been a cause of deep sorrow and humiliation to him personally and to the Persian people. The fact that Reza Shah mentioned the Imbrie incident at all was most surprising but it was gratifying to note that his remarks were not tinged with the slightest sign of resentment or bitterness which I am sure was in the first instance feared by Foreign Office officials as a possible result of my visit.

During the course of the conversation I took the opportunity to refer to the Crown Prince in complimentary terms and to his recent betrothal. The Shah immediately sent for the Prince and presented him.

Before terminating the audience the Shah said he wanted me to feel at home during my stay in Iran and turning to the Acting Foreign Minister who was present instructed him to render me every assistance and to hold himself in readiness for any further conversations I might wish to have at the Foreign Office. I assume that this was intended by His Majesty to authorize his officials to discuss freely with me matters of concern to our two Governments at this time including of course that of diplomatic relations. Since the Moslem weekend started at noon today and lasts until Saturday the Acting Foreign Minister has set Saturday morning for our next conversation which I shall report in due course.

As an obvious indication of the Shah’s good will the Government is giving a luncheon in my honor on Sunday and I shall return the honor on Monday.

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I may say in conclusion that contrary to current rumors of the Shah’s bad state of health and decrepitude I found him in excellent physical shape and quite as alert mentally as when I had much to do with him in 1924. [Murray.]

  1. Concerning the arrest of the Iranian Minister in the United States, Djalal, by Maryland police, Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. iii, pp. 342 ff.
  2. Vol. i, p. 677.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, bracketed note, p. 539, and Marjorie M. Whiteman, Damages in International Law, pp. 136–138, 732–733.