888.2553/8–1351: Telegram

No. 68
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State1

top secret

595. From Harriman for the President and Secretary. No distribution except as directed by the Secretary’s office. In his recent meeting with Mosadeq and mixed oil commission group, Stokes has followed two general lines which have not strengthened his general position with Iranian Govt or contributed to improvement of atmosphere. He has proposed broad generalities which he has endeavored to get Iranians to accept in advance of detailed discussion, such as recognition by Iranian Govt that it cannot operate its oil industry without British assistance; that Britain and Iran must have “partnership” in operation of industry; that British operating staff will continue in Iran only if employed by British company, etc. Other line has been to set forth complaints re situation in south, with requests that Iranian Govt take specific measures such as withdrawal of Makki and removal of provisional administration oil commission from Abadan to Ahwaz, as well as other steps to improve morale of British employees.

I have urged Stokes not to expect Iranians, especially Mosadeq, to commit themselves on generalities which wld imply dependence upon Britain with consequent weakening of their bargaining position, or imply intention to negotiate arrangement which public might think may not be consistent with nationalization laws. I [Page 135] therefore suggested that such talks be ceased until he had specific suggested plan to put up to Iranians for discussion. I have also said that it wld be much better, insofar as possible, to delay specific demands regarding the situation in the south, since not only do they adversely affect atmosphere for discussions but real solution to problem depends upon working out through negotiation some arrangement with Iranians. I expressed view, for example, that it wld be unwise to insist that Mosadeq recall Makki to Tehran since this action itself wld build up Makki’s prestige and his presence here wld create difficulties for negotiators. Shah has also told me that this is his opinion. Makki’s reception and strong statement fol his recent return to Tehran, at direction of Mosadeq as gesture to British, has borne out this fear. Stokes has now asked London to play down Makki in BBC and press and has asked me to make similar suggestion to Washington.

Statement of British Consul General at Khorramshahr referred to in my telegram of Aug 82 has been subject of considerable press comment there, notwithstanding Stokes statement to press that his comments did not reflect position of British Govt. Busheri has told me that Iranian Govt is considering asking that he be recalled, but I hope this will not be done unless British persist in demands of their own. In this connection I was told by Stokes that he had recommended to London that Consul General be recalled voluntarily … but that Foreign Office has decided against this action.

Notwithstanding these recent developments, … general mood of Iranians continues to favor settlement of oil disputes, if satisfactory terms can be worked out.

Now that British have come up with specific suggestion (as outlined in my telegram August 123) I hope that discussions can now be focused along more constructive channels.

  1. Repeated to London, eyes only for the Ambassador.
  2. Document 66.
  3. Supra.