68. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

5970. At request of former Prime Minister Qavam of Iran, Embassy Officer called at his hotel. Invitation was extended by Parvis Khan Khalili, Afghan subject of Georgian origin, and Khazrai, both in Qavam’s entourage.

Extremely oriental manner of Qavam made it difficult to fathom real purpose of conversation. Some light was thrown by Khazrai who subsequently endeavored to interpret obtuse and vague words of ex-Prime Minister Qavam. Qavam expressed his admiration, sympathy and confidence in US and referred to abortive attempt to get in contact with President in 49 to warn him of dangerous course which Iran was following. He stressed his unwavering pro-American attitude, and his attempts to bring American technicians to aid his country during his Premiership. Deterioration of political and economic situation in Iran and mounting threat of Communism were described. Only solution to combat these evils was strong man at head of government.

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Qavam then stated that he had no desire to come to power unless incoming Majlis drafted him to head government. He would not go against will of Parliament, but would hesitate to accept helm unless he received assurances that Court would not undermine his position as it had in past. Shah was referred to in friendly terms but described as young, weak and easily influenced by his Court Advisers. Qavam stated that he would be ready to initiate economic and social reforms, with or without aid from abroad, settle the oil problem with UK and undertake strong measures against Tudeh and Commie agitation. This he could not do, however, unless he was assured of complete confidence of Shah and Parliament.

We were asked to transmit to Department Qavam’s desire to work for salvation his country in close collaboration with US and were requested to obtain response fm Dept before Qavam returns to Tehran. When we expressed mystification as to what response to what question was expected, Khazrai, after conferring with Qavam in Persian, intimated that in event latter were to come to power, he would like assurance from US that it would lend good offices with Shah in obtaining unflinching Royal support. We answered that it would be impossible for US Government to pronounce on anything so hypothetical, and added that US Government, of course, was gravely concerned over deteriorating situation in Iran and had already shown its concern in trying in every way possible to assist Iran and strengthen it so it could maintain itself as independent member of free nations.

Our impression is that Qavam is attempting to ascertain whether he would have backing of Washington in case he was called upon to form government. We would appreciate receiving any remarks which Washington, after consulting Ambassador Tehran, might wish us to convey to Qavam.

Qavam has been in Europe last 3 months and just recently undergone operation in Switzerland for nervous facial tic. He appeared old but far from extinct. Qavam told us that he had left Iran at time of arrival new Ambassador and, therefore, had not seen him but hoped to meet him on return to Tehran.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 25. Secret; Security Information. Repeated to Tehran for the Ambassador only. Received March 29 at 3 p.m.