811.24591/30: Telegram

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

73. Department’s 52, February 1. I have talked at length with Prime Minister regarding status of agreement covering presence of American troops in Iran pointing out that tenor his note of August 21 plus subsequent failure his Government to accept agreement as finally approved by State and War Departments, which believed they were acting in harmony with Iranian Government, had placed my Government in unfavorable light which it desired to have rectified. Prime Minister readily admitted justice of our position but stated that whereas necessity which dictated his note of August 21 may no longer govern, he must nevertheless cling to stand which he then assumed and entreat that an agreement covering presence American troops in Iran be finally concluded. He added with some vehemence that he was today instructing his Minister in Washington to take up at once with Department the preparation of one of the proposed drafts enclosed with my despatch No. 759, December 1513 with view to having it signed immediately Minister Dreyfus14 returns.

Without wishing in the least to appear to be questioning wisdom of asking Soheily to retract note in question I think it desirable to point out that the fundamental premise of this note was that American troops came to Iran illegally and without having obtained permission from sovereign this country.

That original and basic premise has not changed; while Iran’s declaration of war in meantime may be considered to have removed [Page 357] illegality their presence here and thus to have affected both the intent and urgency of Prime Minister’s note, I find it exceedingly difficult to ask him to cancel statements made in heat of political necessity 6 months ago, and before this is done I earnestly request that, rather than muddy the waters with further controversial discussions, renewed efforts be made to iron out draft of agreement as finally drawn up at beginning of December and to have it ready for signature upon Minister’s return here.

Furthermore, while Soheily evinces a continuing concern over progress of this agreement it is probable that until his own political position is somewhat more settled he will at best have but an academic interest in agreement. This situation which probably will tend to build up to climax with opening new Majlis14a on February 26 is felt to be further reason why we should hesitate to ask Prime Minister to make any retraction at this time which he might feel would hurt his own political future.

I have talked with General Connolly15 regarding point he raised relative to jurisdiction in criminal cases over American troops in Iran16 and he is in full agreement that this matter be considered apart from the executive agreement and made subject to either joint or parallel action with British and Soviets. He still feels that his command in [is] functioning quite satisfactorily without any agreement but he admits that for the record some form of agreement is probably desirable. I feel convinced he would now offer no objection to our concluding one of the proposed drafts forwarded by despatch 759.

  1. None printed.
  2. Louis G. Dreyfus, Jr., at this time in the United States.
  3. The Iranian Parliament.
  4. Maj. Gen. Donald H. Connolly, Commanding General, Persian Gulf Service Command.
  5. For correspondence regarding this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, pp. 487 ff., passim.