236. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State1

180. Had further talk this morning with Foreign Minister Bashayan on Secretary’s August 26 statement (Embtel 172, August 27).2

Bashayan said he was in favor of early meeting of representatives of the Arab States for exchange of views on statement. Jordan [and] Syria in accepting invitation to a conference to consider North African situation (Embtels 166, August 25, 168, August 26 and 170 August 273) had suggested that Secretary’s statement be considered at same time. Bashayan said he too was in favor of that.

I asked Bashayan how far plans for conference on North Africa had progressed. He said all Arab States except Egypt and Saudi Arabia had replied and had accepted invitation to attend such a conference. States replying had suggested Beirut as meeting place. Egypt he anticipated would request that meeting take place at Cairo. That would be acceptable to him.

I gather that the level at which this conference is to be held has not up to now been decided. To my question as to when conference might take place Bashayan said within three or four days.

Until Arab States can get together for an exchange of views on Secretary’s statement Bashayan said he thought it was important that public stand by various governments on statement be avoided. He regretted very much that certain members of present Government of Syria had already declared themselves publicly against statement. These men he continued as they are members of only a caretaker government are all too inclined to act irresponsibly. Their one aim now is to pile up difficulties for the new incoming government.

What about the 1947UN Resolution Bashayan then asked? No mention of it was made by the Secretary he continued and this has given rise to some unfavorable comment. I told him that it was generally understood that the Arabs took their stand on that resolution. It was equally recognized that the Israelis took their stand on the present frontiers. These clearly would be the starting points in any negotiations but obviously if a settlement were to be reached both Arabs and Israelis would have to make concessions.

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Bashayan said he understood that. (Prime Minister Nuri’s reaction to a similar observation of mine was reported in Embtel 171, August 27.)4

There remained the UN Resolutions on Jerusalem Bashayan continued. Could I say something about them? On the matter of Jerusalem I said I felt I could tell him that the US Government was not committed to any particular solution.

There was one more question Bashayan then said that he wanted to ask. How urgent was it for the Arab States to declare themselves on the statement?

The main objective of the Secretary’s speech I explained was to get both parties thinking of ways to bring negotiations for a sound settlement to a head. A settlement certainly was urgently needed by both parties but there was not the slightest intention of coercing or rushing the governments concerned into commitments of any kind. It was very important though in my view that an early start be made on exchanging views.

But if, Bashayan then asked, representatives of the Arab States get together and it develops that the atmosphere is not propitious for moving toward a settlement would you say that it were best under those circumstances to play for time trying to keep door open for talks at some future more favorable time.

I told Bashayan that I felt strongly that if no real progress could be made right now then by all means every effort should be made to keep the door open for another attempt at a later more favorable time.

Before we parted Bashayan reiterated his deep interest in the Secretary’s statement. He said he would continue to give it very careful consideration. He had one suggestion he would like to make now. When the negotiations which he so much hoped would materialize reach the problem of refugees he would like to see Doctor Izzet Tannous Director of the Arab Refugees Office in New York brought into the picture. Tannous whom he described as a Palestinian refugee could he said give much valuable detailed information.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.86/8–2955. Secret; Priority. Received at 8:35 a.m., August 30. Repeated priority to London.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 684A.86/8–2755)
  3. None printed. (Ibid., 751S.00/8–2555, 751S.00/8–2655, and 751S.00/8–2755, respectively)
  4. Document 228.