888.2553/8–1651: Telegram

No. 70
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State1

top secret

663. From Harriman for the President and Secretary. No distribution except as directed by Secretary’s office. In meeting with Mosadeq Tuesday afternoon2 referred to in mytel Aug 14,3 Stokes took firm line with PriMin to effect Iranian negotiating committee must begin substantive discussions upon possible solution to problem which they thus far had not done, and said his mission could serve no useful purpose in Tehran if such negotiations were not undertaken. Arrangements were then made with Mosadeq for meeting between British and Iranian committee Wednesday morning for Iranians to hear British explanations of suggestions which they had made. Mosadeq did not mention three points reported mytel Aug 134 as being his reaction to proposal. Contrary statement in that telegram neither Mosadeq nor Busheri have informed Stokes of these points. Stokes feels that manner in which he took initiative [Page 138] in talk precluded detailed discussion. Mosadeq did tell Stokes, however, that he did not consider British proposal to be consistent with nationalization law of March 20 to which Stokes reports he replied that he did not see how Mosadeq could come to this conclusion since he had had no explanation of proposals.

Meeting with Iranian committee Wednesday morning I am told that British explained in considerable detail their proposal. Iranians listened to these explanations and asked questions, but did not discuss any points, saying that they had to consult among themselves and with Cabinet before taking any position. It was agreed that they wld consider matter and meet again to inform British of their reaction. It was also agreed that British proposal as such would not be released to the press by either side since its rather legalistic form would lead to misinterpretations, but that both sides would be free to explain proposals in their own language.

While this meeting was in progress, Fatemi held press conference in which his comments were based upon assumption that Mosadeq had in fact informed Stokes of Iran’s specific negative reaction to proposal. Fatemi also released text of British proposal contrary to understanding with Iranian delegation.

On Wednesday evening Stokes was host at dinner given for Iranian committee and members my mission. In this informal atmosphere I urged essentiality of frank discussions between Iranians and British of all problems related to issue and said that only in this way can we hope for satisfactory settlement. After dinner most Iranians told me individually they agreed.

I understand that Ala saw Mosadeq yesterday upon Shah’s instructions to urge Govt to negotiate with British on all issues, rather than taking rigid position. As Friday is holiday, next meeting between British and Iranian committees is arranged for Saturday.

Stokes has asked me to make public statement or, alternatively, to talk with Iranian Govt giving my full support to British proposals. I have told him that I cannot do this at the present time for simple reason that proposals are of general nature and that they are subject to varying interpretations.

I am seeing Mosadeq this afternoon and will strongly urge him to carry out this agreement to negotiate emphasizing essentiality of frank exchange of views with British on points of difference. Such influence as I have here can best be exerted if the two parties come to specific issues.

My discussions with Iranians so far give me impression that a basic difficulty is their suspicion of British. They fear that British [Page 139] will continue interference in Iranian political affairs and have a feeling of insecurity in their own ability to prevent this.

  1. Repeated to London eyes only for the Ambassador.
  2. Aug. 14.
  3. Telegram 640 reported that Stokes presented his proposals to the Iranian Delegation and that Mosadeq asked Stokes to call on him on Tuesday afternoon. (888.2553/8–1451)
  4. See footnote 5, Document 67.