279. Editorial Note

Prime Minister Manoutchehr Eqbal and other Iranian officials attended the Ministerial Council session of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO, formerly the Baghdad Pact) held in Washington, October 7–10. Documentation on the decision to hold the meeting in Washington and on the results of the session are in the regional compilation in this volume. Prime Minister Eqbal and his party met with Secretary of State Herter and his colleagues on October 7, which was recorded in five separate memoranda of conversation on the following topics: “Soviet Pressures on Iran” (CENTO US Del/MC/2; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–WA/10–759), “Iran’s Desire As Regards Statements of United States Support” (CENTO USDel/MC/3; ibid.), “Economic and Military Assistance” (CENTO USDel/MC/4; ibid., 788.5–MSP/10–759), “Iranian Views on the Afghan Situation (CENTO USDel/MC/5; ibid., Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1495), and “Turkish-Iranian Railroad” (ibid.).

The first memorandum of conversation on Iranian-Soviet relations included the following exchange: Eqbal stated that Iran after the bitter experience of negotiations with the Soviet Union had made its choice to maintain its alignment with the West and expected the West’s support in resisting Soviet pressure. According to Eqbal, Iran “was basing its actions on the firm belief that any overt military attack upon it would be the opening of World War III.” According to the memorandum, “To this the Secretary nodded and, after an almost imperceptible hesitation, responded in the affirmative. Neither the statement by the Prime Minister, however, nor the response by the Secretary, were of a character properly to be subjected to interpretation as either a formal inquiry and/or an assurance.”

In the second memorandum of conversation, the Iranian Prime Minister asked for and received a promise that the United States would make a public statement in support of Iran. At the end of the CENTO meeting, the White House issued a statement condemning Soviet propaganda against Iran and stressing that it viewed any threat to Iran’s territorial integrity or political independence with gravity. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pages 1065–1066.

Discussion on economic and military issues was non-specific, with the exception of the railroad question where the Prime Minister made a strong plea for additional support in completing the final 80 kilometers to the Turkish frontier. The discussion on Afghanistan centered on the longstanding issue of the Helmand River waters and Iran’s opposition to a dam on the river in Afghanistan. Assistant Secretary of State Jones suggested an international “Helmand Authority” and Herter seconded the idea.