888.2553/7–2051: Telegram

No. 46
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State

top secret

287. From Harriman for the President and Secretary (no distribution except as directed by the Secretary’s office). Ala told me Thursday morning1 that Mosadeq had been persuaded to receive, if [Page 100] we cld arrange it, a British Cabinet minister without prior conditions to discuss relations between the two countries.

When I called on Mosadeq, however, he told me this was not so. He maintained he cld only receive a British rep if the British recognize in advance the nationalization law. In a long argument I pointed out that if he took this rigid position the British wld stand on the court decision, and the impasse wld continue with increasingly dangerous consequences. He appeared anxious not to have me leave this mtg with a completely negative reaction and said that he wld discuss the matter with Shah and his associates. I gained the impression that he was in fact afraid of violent public reaction if he appeared publicly to be giving in to the British.

When I reported the conversation to the Shah Thursday afternoon, who also received me in bed due to slight fever, he said that he wld talk to Mosadeq Friday and use his influence to induce him to recede from his position.

Later Thursday evening Busheri, Minister Roads, who has been assigned to stay with me, said that he had seen Mosadeq after my call and what Mosadeq now has in mind is that he wld receive the British minister if the British make clear their acceptance of nationalization in principle. I have found that Iran officials have doubts that British have in fact accepted the principle of nationalization even with ref to the nine point nationalization law. They consider they have no clear-cut communication to that effect.

If it develops that Mosadeq will agree to accept the suggestion of a visit by a British minister, I am counting on your support in inducing the British to send a minister of standing with authority to negotiate on a broad basis and without demanding prior conditions. Also the British shld not make public statements inimical to their negotiations and the situation here such as implying that Mosadeq is yielding to pressure.

In my discussion with British Ambassador on Tuesday he agreed that the best hope of coming to an agreement was through the visit of a British minister. I have not however discussed the subject with him since, as my talks with Iranian officials have so far been inconclusive.

I had a long discussion with the mixed oil committee of the Senate and Majlis late Thursday afternoon and found most of them more concerned and open-minded than I had expected.2

  1. July 19.
  2. The meeting took place at 6 p.m. at the Sahebgaranieh Palace. Attending for the United States were Harriman, Rountree, Levy, and Howe; for Iran, Senators Morteza Bayat, Ahmad Matin-Daftari, Rezazadeh Shafaq, and Mohammad Soruri, Deputies Nasr Qoli Ardalan, Mohammad Moazami, and Seyid Ali Shayegan, and Hassibi. A memorandum of the conversation is in file 888.2553/10–1051.