788.11/5–3053: Telegram

No. 329
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State

top secret

4573. Limited distribution in the Department.

My conversation with Shah this morning lasted about eighty minutes. To obtain maximum privacy it took place in Palace garden.
I conveyed message contained Deptel 3067 May 28. He expressed gratification pointing out British in past had endeavored persuade him conduct himself as constitutional monarch in European sense and avoid participation Iran political life. He said it appears British policy this regard now changing. He personally convinced that unless Shah would play certain role in political and particularly military life country would be in confusion and chaos.
I told him I would like frank statement his attitude re General Zahedi. He said although General not intellectual giant nevertheless would be acceptable as Prime Minister on three conditions: (a) he would come into office through legal, parliamentary means; (b) he would come in with wide measure political support; (c) he would [Page 731] be acceptable to US and UK and either US or US and UK would be prepared to give new government emergency financial as well as massive economic aid. He would prefer no change of government to new government which could not obtain substantial foreign financial and economic aid.
I told Shah I had impression British would welcome Government headed by General Zahedi and so would US provided sure Shah would give Zahedi full and sustained support. Disastrous for Iran if … Shah would change his mind and withdraw support General. Shah insisted he would not change mind but conditions which he laid down should be clearly understood.
Shah said he did not believe General Zahedi could come into power through military coup. Friends of General Amini gradually taking over key military positions. Several months ago General Amini’s brother, present acting Minister Court, had endeavored persuade Shah come out openly in support General Zahedi. Amini’s attitude recently had changed. Latter now advocating stop-gap rather weak National Front government to be followed later by strong government. Shah asked what I would think of “stop-gap” government. I said it seemed to me like trying ride two horses simultaneously. Support General Zahedi not likely be effective if those giving it were at same time looking around for alternative weaker candidate act as “stop-gap”. Shah agreed but said Amini groups might be able block General Zahedi.
Shah asked if oil dispute still active. I replied no. In response my questions Shah expressed opinion it would be easier to effect settlement oil problem with Dr. Mosadeq than with successor. Any avenue which might lead towards settlement oil dispute with Mosadeq should not be ignored even if attempt at settlement might result in prolongation Mosadeq Government.
Shah said he hoped in case no settlement oil dispute possible and if Dr. Mosadeq continued in power US would extend sufficient financial and economic assistance to enable Iran pass through present crisis.
Shah said present relationship between himself and army intolerable. He no longer was receiving reports re developments army. Army officers no longer dare visit him. Too humiliating for him remain Iran in such circumstances. Unless situation should change therefore he determined go abroad in July for visit Crown Prince Saudi Arabia.
Shah said Amini sure to question him re our conversation. He would inform Amini I had described my trip Karachi and had told him oil dispute no longer active. He would then add that he had informed me that in his opinion it would be easier effect settlement oil dispute with Mosadeq than with any successor and he hoped [Page 732] every effort would be made to this end. He would also tell Amini he had expressed to me his earnest hope that even though no oil settlement could be obtained US would extend economic and financial assistance to Iran to enable country survive.1
Leave to Department’s discretion re informing British.
  1. Ambassador Henderson enclosed a memorandum of this conversation with the Shah in a letter to Byroade dated May 30. (788.00/5–3053)