Memorandum of Conversation, by the Second
Secretary of the Embassy in Iran (Stutesman)1
- Prime Minister Mohammed Mosadeq
- Ambassador Henry F. Grady
- John H. Stutesman, Second Secretary of Embassy (Translator)
- Embtel 109, July 9, 19512
Ambassador Grady called on Prime Minister Mosadeq at the latter’s residence at noon, July 9, to deliver a message from President Truman (Deptel 45, July 8).3 The Prime Minister was in bed as usual. His physical appearance and speech indicated that although he was tired he was still quite vigorous.
The Ambassador handed him the Persian translation of the President’s message which had been typed in the Embassy. The Prime Minister read this document slowly and with careful attention and then, laying down the paper, burst into laughter for as long as thirty seconds. “This comes too late”, he said.
“Our reply to the Hague Court”, he continued “has been approved by the two Majlis Commissions and by the Council of Ministers and is being sent today and, possibly, is already on the way. We consider the entire question to be closed”. The Ambassador pointed out that the President’s message was written in a warm and friendly tone and he requested the Prime Minister to give it careful attention. The Prime Minister replied that he appreciated the President’s interest but that the Iranians had never expected to abide by the decision of the Hague Court which they considered had no jurisdiction in the oil dispute. He conceded, however, that the President’s message might have had “a little effect on Iranian public opinion” if it had been received before the Government had concluded its discussions and had approved the official reply to the Court.
The Ambassador said “I assume that your reply to the Hague Court is negative?” The Prime Minister said “Yes”. The Ambassador asked if the Embassy could have a copy of the reply and the [Page 87]Prime Minister immediately gave instructions to a summoned clerk, ordering that a copy of the message be sent to the Embassy as soon as possible. (Note: no message was received although next morning an Embassy representative was able to obtain the official Persian text and the official French translation. The English translation made at the Embassy from the Persian and checked against the French text was telegraphed to the Department in Embtel 126, July 10.4)
The Ambassador then asked what the Prime Minister’s intentions were in regard to publishing the President’s letter to him. The Prime Minister said that to him it made no difference, although he thought it would be better for the American position in Iran if the letter were not published. The Ambassador pointed out that the press had received releases of previous messages between the President and the Prime Minister and would certainly expect release of this message. He said further that journalists are often prone to speculation and would probably write wild stories if the message were not released.
The Prime Minister appreciated this point of view but again said that he advised the Ambassador not to allow the letter to be published as it would “anger” the Iranian people against the United States. He expanded on this theme and became bitter in his remarks about United States policy for the first time in any of the Ambassador’s conversations with him. “The message takes the British side entirely. The Americans have always taken the British side in this oil dispute and have never given aid to Iran”. The Ambassador said, “The British accuse me of always taking the Persian side”. The Prime Minister replied, “The British are mistaken.”
“Furthermore, your President’s message asks me to consider a matter which has been already settled by our reply to the Hague Court and our reply to President Truman is in our message to the Court. You will see when you read it that your President has taken the British side”.
No reference was made by the Prime Minister to the penultimate paragraph of the President’s message in which the suggestion was made that Mr. Averell Harriman might come to Iran to discuss “this situation” with the Prime Minister. The Ambassador did not raise the matter in view of the Prime Minister’s completely adamant position in refusing to reopen any discussions of the Hague Court decision.5
- Transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 42 from Tehran, July 11. (888.2553/71151)↩
- Telegram 109 transmitted Grady’s initial report on his conversation with Mosadeq. (888.2553/7–951)↩
- The message is printed supra.↩
- Not printed.↩
- The text of Mosadeq’s response to President Truman was conveyed to the Department in telegram 147 from Tehran, July 11, which also reported that it would be released to the press on the following day. Mosadeq stated that the AIOC still had not recognized the principle of nationalization, but he welcomed the suggestion of a visit by Averell Harriman. (888.2553/7–1151)↩