888.2553/7–2751: Telegram

No. 58
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State1

top secret

404. From Harriman for the President and Secretary. No distribution except as directed by the Secretary’s office. British Ambassador and I have discussed his instructions received this morning along lines of Gifford’s telegram (29 to Tehran, 543 to Dept2). We [Page 121] both agree that these instructions both in substance and more particularly in form, if presented to Iran Government, would cause breakdown in negotiations. Among other points, for example, Iran Govt would read wording of ending of “interference with company’s operations” as requiring prior acceptance of court decision or return to status quo as set up by Ambassador under point (1) of four point message despatched prior to receipt proposal.3 British Ambassador and I agreed that it was difficult in reasonable time to get his instructions changed through tel communication and that best course was for two of us to leave tonight for London. Middleton, British Counsellor, was also present and he made some suggestions as to ways Commission might possibly meet situation from standpoint of both govts. I am hopeful that in personal talks with British Ministers with Shepherd present a practical solution might be worked out acceptable to British Govt and at same time possible of acceptance here.

I am sure it is necessary to bring with me either British Ambassador or Counsellor Middleton in order that we can present combined views.…

British Ambassador is asking London urgently for permission to return with me. We agreed press statement from here would be to effect that British Govt is considering Iran proposal and has asked for clarification on some matters which can be made more clear by personal discussions than by telegram. I am making a commitment to Iran Govt that I will return in order to avoid concern here. I will tell press I plan to be back Monday for large dinner including Majlis members being given for me by Iran Govt that evening. I think it important psychologically for me to keep this engagement.

We should arrive London Heathrow Airport about 10 a.m. Saturday.4 I request Gifford arrange meetings as he sees fit and am counting on his advice and help. I particularly want to see Morrison, Attlee and Gaitskell and anyone else British desire. I will be accompanied by Mrs. Harriman, Rountree, General Landy, Colonel Walters and Levy.

  1. Repeated to London eyes only for the Ambassador.
  2. Document 56. In telegram 546 from London, July 27, Gifford transmitted the following text of the note which Shepherd was to deliver to the Iranian Government:

    “His Majesty’s Govt have recd from Mr. Harriman proposals for negots between HMG and the Persian Govt re the dispute between the Persian Govt and the AIOC and for discussion of matters of mutual interest to the two govts. HMG are glad to avail themselves of this invitation. They recognize the principle of nationalization of the oil industry in Persia.

    HMG are prepared to send to Tehran an official mission headed by a Minister for the purpose of these negots. It will be appreciated by the Persian Govt, however, that this cannot be done while the company’s operations continue to be interfered with and the company’s management and staff continue to be subjected to vexations and restrictions on their normal activities. Therefore, before HMG can consider the despatch of the mission they must request that the Persian Govt shld send instructions to the competent auths to ensure that the present interference with the company’s operations and the present vexations to the company’s staff are discontinued.” (888.2553/7–2751)

  3. See Document 55.
  4. July 28.