137. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • US-Iraqi Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mr. Jomard
  • Mr. Jawad, Iraqi Permanent Representative to the United Nations
  • Mr. William M. Rountree, NEA

I called on the Foreign Minister at my request, having made the arrangements previously through the Iraqi Chargé d’Affaires in Washington. I was cordially received. I spoke at some length concerning our desire to maintain good relations with Iraq, reviewing generally the history of our relationship since the coup d’état on July 14. I expressed concern that American policies and motivations had been misrepresented by our enemies and this might have created misapprehension on the part of some Iraqi leaders. I therefore reviewed generally our attitude toward the Iraqi regime. I mentioned that a prominent Arab statesman had recently commented to the effect that the US and the Soviet Union were working for the same objective in Iraq; i.e. to prevent union between Iraq and the United Arab Republic. I said that our attitude in this regard was that the future relationship between these two countries should be left entirely for decision by the governments and peoples concerned; that as far as the US was concerned if Iraq and the United Arab Republic wished union, or preferred some other kind of association, we would certainly not interfere. We had, for example, fully accepted the decision of Egypt and Syria to unite. In the course of the two and one-half hour conversation I reviewed various complaints which we had concerning Iraqi treatment of the American Embassy and nationals in Iraq and placed special emphasis upon the desirability of clearing up the question of the disappearance of three Americans. 1

The Foreign Minister spoke with frankness. He said that the present government desired good relations with the US and indeed would have embarked upon a much more friendly policy at the outset had it not been for its deep concern regarding the possible reaction of the US to the coup d’état. They had “learned” of large numbers of American agents going into Iran and elsewhere in the area to work toward a counterrevolution in Iraq. Reports of these activities appeared to have been [Page 343]given substance by the fact that the US “long delayed” its recognition of the regime and, together with the British, dispatched forces to the area. The Iraqi authorities felt it necessary to take strong measures for protection against possible hostile acts. Thus, foreigners were placed under surveillance and the operations of foreign embassies and offices were placed under careful scrutiny. Other measures were taken to control the number of personnel and goods, and communications. While this was governmental policy at that time, some officers at lower echelons became over-zealous and took actions which were perhaps excessive. Most of the difficulties of this nature had ended, however, and it was the desire of the government to re-establish as soon as possible good relations with the US and its representatives.

Regarding the three Americans missing in Iraq, the Foreign Minister listened attentively to what I had to say about the possible adverse reaction in Congress and among the American public if the Iraqi authorities should treat the matter lightly and not live up to their responsibilities under international law. He asked specifically for my suggestions. I told him I thought the first thing to be done was to disinter the remains of the several victims of the events of July 14 who had been buried in a common grave and permit an examination of the remains by specialists, including one designated by us, in order to see if they could be identified. Secondly, I thought that a serious investigation should be undertaken which would include interrogation of witnesses and others who might throw light upon what happened to the three Americans. I emphasized that not only was it necessary to establish the facts in connection with the discharge of Iraqi obligations in the matter, but also to permit the families of the deceased to collect insurance and settle estates. The Foreign Minister said that he would go into this matter immediately upon his return to Baghdad and would do all he could to clear up the affair. He invited me to send any further suggestions which I might have to him through the American Ambassador. He said that he could understand the particularly delicate problems involved in this affair. He thought it would be wise if the American Ambassador in Baghdad could play an even more personal role than that heretofore. While he was not clear in this regard, I gathered that his suggestion was that the Ambassador might have personal conversations with appropriate Iraqi officials similar to that which I had had with the Foreign Minister.

Regarding Iraqi relations with the United Arab Republic, the Foreign Minister said Iraq did not desire union. It wished to have close relations with the United Arab Republic and to achieve these in the framework of the Arab League.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.87/10–1158. Confidential. Drafted by Rountree. The conversation was held at the Iraqi Consulate. Foreign Minister Jomard was attending the Thirteenth Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 111.