Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson)79
We have had some hesitation in drafting the attached telegram to Moscow80 since we are anxious not to do anything which will make [Page 327] still more complicated the negotiations which we assume will take place in the near future between Iran and the Soviet Union with regard to Azerbaijan.
Our reasons for recommending this action are briefly as follows:
- Our failure to take any action might give the Soviet Government the impression that our numerous expressions of interest in the freedom of news are not based on any real intention on the part of I this Government to endeavor to render it possible to back up American correspondents abroad.
- Our failure to support the Embassy’s request lowers the prestige of the Embassy in the eyes of Soviet officials in Iran and might render more difficult effectively to perform its functions of carrying out American policies in that area.
- Unless Soviet officials can demonstrate that the presence of American correspondents in Northern Iran might be a threat to the security of that area, they have no ground to forbid our correspondents to enter that area. We should not continue for an indefinite period to acquiesce in the Soviet practice of barring American correspondents from non-Soviet territory.
- The American public should not be prevented from obtaining the impressions of the American correspondents regarding developments in Iran.