891.51A/520: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

1496. My telegram number 1298, March 18, 1 [11] p.m. and previous. I have now received an informal communication from the [Page 231] Foreign Office with reference to Anglo-American cooperation in Iran which may be summarized as follows:

The proposal that “United States advisers and relief workers” might be employed by the Persian Government to assist them in revenue and finance work and in the distribution of imported supplies originated with the British Minister at Tehran. The latter reported on February 5 that the Persian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs seemed to favor his suggestion. Mr. Eden7 approved Bullard’s initiative and telegraphed Lord Halifax8 to inform the Department and to add that if the Persian Government requested such advisers and relief workers the British hoped that we would accept; they expressed the view that efficient American personnel “could undoubtedly afford very valuable assistance to Persia at the present time.” The Foreign Office has not however heard that the Government of Iran has followed up the suggestion by asking for such assistance and a further telegram is being despatched to Bullard to inquire the present status of the matter.

The memorandum goes on to say that the presence of Americans in Persia and the assistance which they would render “would tend to strengthen the position of the Persian administration, and this, as the State Department rightly point out, is most desirable at the present juncture.…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

With reference to our suggestion concerning cooperation between the American and British Ministers at Teheran, to encourage the assumption of high posts by Persians “of tested integrity and competence.” The British view is that “it will be necessary to proceed in such questions with considerable caution.” The memorandum continues: [“]The State Department will, I am sure, agree that it would not be desirable for the United States and British representatives at Teheran to incur resentment by promoting the interests of certain personalities whose appointment to important posts might be particularly acceptable to ourselves, but perhaps less acceptable to Persian opinion, or even to the Soviet authorities who have also to be taken into account, for Persian officials must be prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Government as well as with ourselves, and they must also enjoy sufficient support in the country to enable them to carry on their work without relying entirely on British or United States support. Any Persian officials known to owe their position to foreign intervention would find themselves correspondingly weakened. The position of the present government under M. Soheily is in fact considered to be the stronger for having been established without any foreign interference. [Page 232] Sir Reader Bullard reports that he has discussed the suggestion with his United States colleague, and that they are agreed as to the undesirability of their attempting to undertake the task of selecting Persian Ministers and high officials. They feel that it would be dangerous to attempt to force their own candidates on the Persian administration. We would therefore prefer to refrain from sending explicit instructions to them to act in the sense proposed, but to rely on them to use their influence with the Persian authorities, to the extent to which they feel that this can safely be done, with a view to encourage the best and most efficient elements in the country as a whole. In actual practice and in Eastern countries it is often much easier to discourage a bad appointment than it is to promote a good one.”

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. British Ambassador in the United States.