Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs (Jernegan)

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During a long conversation last night1 the Turkish Ambassador remarked that some time ago the Iranian Ambassador in Washington had suggested to him the desirability of a mutual defense pact between Iran and Turkey. At about the same time, the Iranian Ambassador in Ankara had raised the question with the Turkish Foreign Office. The substance of the Turkish reply in both cases had been that such an alliance would seem to have no real advantage unless it were coupled with a similar relationship with the United States or had an American guarantee. Lacking such a guarantee, the pact would merely provoke the USSR without gaining any tangible benefit for the participants.

Ambassador Erkin said that he had thought this settled the matter, but quite recently, when the new Turkish Ambassador presented his credentials in Tehran, the Iranian authorities had again made the same proposal. Mr. Erkin intimated that the Turkish answer would be the same, and he expressed some surprise that the Iranians should renew their suggestion in the light of the previous Turkish attitude. I remarked, humorously, that this was far from the only instance in which a government had made repeated suggestions or requests in the face of repeated rejections.

I went on to say that the Iranian Government at one time mentioned to us its idea of a Turkish-Iranian pact. We had replied that we could neither encourage nor discourage any such arrangement. We considered it was a matter for the two governments themselves to decide in the light of their own judgment as to their own best interests. So far as any American association might be concerned, however, we could take no position at all except for the present we did not feel able to enter into any new special arrangement with foreign countries. I said this was still our position at the moment.

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  1. In another portion of this same conversation, reported upon in a separate memorandum of conversation, not printed, Ambassador Erkin renewed his inquiry regarding the possible effect of the North Atlantic Treaty on American-Turkish relations in the light of the existing British-French-Turkish Alliance. Jernegan explained that the question was still under study. Erkin observed that the Turkish Foreign Ministry had become intensely interested in the question and kept bombarding him with instructions to press for action. (711.67/11–1549)