244. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State0
198. After usual ceremony presentation credentials1 I talked informally with the Shah for about 45 minutes in presence of FonMin. The conversation was opened by my presenting to Shah note containing text of President’s message quoted in Department’s priority 204 July 19, [Page 577]7 p.m.2 Shah read and reread it with increasing interest. After careful study he said he was highly pleased with careful and sympathetic consideration which had been given by Washington to his problems. Parenthetically I personally am most grateful for having had this important message to deliver at time of my first call as I feel it went far toward opening a new phase of relationships. During our brief discussion of telegram Shah indicated he would wish to restudy with US the whole question military aid in light of conditions markedly changed since his Washington visit.
Shah then brought up for discussion following points:
- He and President of Pakistan, who is still a guest here, felt strongly that Turkey should not at present time invade Iraq (no mention was made of Syria). I indicated that I thought that while Washington position on this had not been completely firmed up they were in agreement at this stage. He then went on to suggest that his solution, if one were possible, of the Iraqi situation lay in less precipitous approach in which Iran, with our guidance, could (a) work with local tribes in Iraq, including the Kurds, to try to win them over to our side; (b) at same time Jordan and Turkey should simultaneously be carrying out similar psychological offensive in other parts Iraq; and (c) if and when situation was “ripe”, Jordan, having been built up militarily in interim, should make military attack without Western participation.
- Shah next expanded at some length on talk he had yesterday with Soviet Ambassador, in which he said he reiterated and reaffirmed his statements from Ankara in even more positive terms of stressing particularly why he felt it was to interests of this whole area for US and British troops to land in Lebanon and Jordan. In this connection he said that while emphasizing various reasons he purposely did not raise the point that these countries had asked for help because he felt that this might give the Iraqis excuse at some later time to ask for Soviet help. After these preliminaries with the Soviet Ambassador latter extended to Shah an invitation to meet Khrushchev near the Soviet-Iranian border, where they could both enjoy “hunting trip”. Shah smiled in recounting this statement and said there was no hunting in that area and added that he had told Soviet Ambassador that he would consider invitation in light of Iran’s interests. He then most seriously said to me that he would like to have Washington’s advice as to whether he should hold such meeting with Khrushchev. Personally he doubted that much would come of it but if US felt that such talks would serve any useful purpose he would appreciate our views on how and why. (Ala separately stated that Shah had told Soviet Ambassador that instead of meeting between [Page 578]Khrushchev and Shah, that Khrushchev could better exert his influence upon Nasser, who was principal cause of difficulties in area. In my conversation with Shah he did not mention this point.)
- Shah said that he had heard that Khrushchev suggested heads of state meeting next Thursday.3 In discussing this point he indicated his feeling that such meeting might only result in further opportunities for propaganda on part of Soviets. At same time he said firm invitation would be difficult to decline unless US were fully prepared to go through with meeting. If we declined he hoped we would use evasive tactics to get out of this “Soviet box”.
- In response my oral comments based on Department’s telegram with respect to further support for internal security program, Shah said he would welcome any advice and assistance we could give and that he would talk with our representatives interested this matter in due course. He added that while he felt that certain headway had been made in this field there was still a long way to go.4
I was personally very pleased with whole tone of conversation and repeated indications Shah gave that he would be happy to talk with me informally at any time I wished to call.
General Hedayat, who will learn of President’s message from Shah, has asked, for meeting at 5 p.m. today with General Hoy. During meeting here in Embassy it was agreed that as first step we should direct program toward building up to strength units they have with material they have. In this connection General Hoy will prepare before 5 o’clock meeting statistical tables indicating (a) requirements for bringing existing units up to authorized strength, (b) requirements for insuring most effective use of existing equipment and (c) requirements to bring general standards of efficiency to optimum operational level.
I expect to see FonMin Hekmat, who was present today although ill, as soon as possible, and in accordance with his request confirm substance of my conversation with Shah.
Observe Presidential Handling.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/7–2058. Secret; Priority; Presidential Handling.↩
- Edward T. Wailes was appointed Ambassador to Iran on June 18, 1958.↩
- Document 243.↩
- July 24.↩
- In telegram 277 to Tehran, July 23, the Department instructed Wailes to meet with the Shah and provide the following answers to his specific questions. On recognition of the new Iraqi Government, the Department suggested before a decision is made, careful study, consultation with other allies, and a discussion at the forthcoming Baghdad Pact meeting in London. The Department shared the Shah’s concern over military intervention in Iraq. As for nonmilitary action, the Department agreed that it “might be worthy of study as means of influencing developments,” but action should await an assessment of the attitude of the Qassim government in Iraq. Regarding a possible meeting with Khrushchev, the Shah would not want to give the impression that he was going under unfavorable conditions in response to summons. (Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–2358)↩