66. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Dillon to President Eisenhower0

SUBJECT

  • Hosting Baghdad Pact Council Session in Washington1

The Baghdad Pact Council of Deputies in Ankara, at Iran’s behest, has requested the United States to consider again the possibility of [Page 222]inviting the Baghdad Pact Ministerial Council to hold its next session in Washington. The session would be of three-day duration. The most likely date would be early October, possibly October 7–9. Twice previously we have declined to invite the Baghdad Pact Council to meet here, but on both occasions pointed out that our action did not rule out the possibility of a future session here.

I have weighed the pros and cons of acceding to this request and I have concluded that on balance the time has come when it is in our interests to invite the Baghdad Pact Council to meet here. Secretary Herter has concurred from Geneva. Although there is apt to be difficulty with various elements in Congress, we are on technically sound ground and consider that the meeting has to be held here if we are to further our policy of strengthening the Pact and its objectives. Continued hesitation on our part to hold a meeting here might create serious misgivings in the minds of the members of the Pact, in particular Iran, and could even confront us with a demand for full United States membership as the price for maintaining the Pact.

We feel, however, that the question should be submitted to you before any action is taken. I am enclosing a memorandum giving pertinent background information.

It has been customary for the Chief of State of the host country to welcome the Council in some manner. I recommend that, if you concur in inviting the Council and if convenient to you, you agree to make such an address to the opening session.2

If you concur we would plan to inform the appropriate Congressional committees of our decision prior to the extension of the invitation.

Douglas Dillon
3
[Page 223]

[Enclosure]4

BACKGROUND MEMORANDUM RE INVITING THE BAGHDAD PACT TO HOLD ITS NEXT MINISTERIAL COUNCIL SESSION IN WASHINGTON NEXT OCTOBER

At its recent session in Karachi5 the Baghdad Pact Ministerial Council tentatively accepted an Iranian invitation to meet next in Tehran. Now, however, at Iran’s behest, the Council of Deputies has requested that the United States consider the possibility of inviting the Council to convene instead in Washington. This reflects a long-standing conviction of the Pact member states that a Washington meeting venue would strengthen immeasurably the Baghdad Pact’s standing in the international community at large and in the Middle East in particular.

Late last year, at the specific request of Foreign Ministers Zorlu and Hekmat of Turkey and Iran, respectively, we considered the desirability of inviting the Baghdad Pact Council to hold its January meeting here. We concluded there was then insufficient time to brief the incoming Congress. Since, therefore, such an invitation might have produced some adverse Congressional reaction and might have redounded to the Pact’s disadvantage, we declined to do so at that time.

At the Karachi Council session in January the member states again pressed strongly for the United States Observer to invite the Council to meet next in Washington. After further consideration of the question in the Department of State, it was decided not to do so then since the bilateral agreements with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan were under negotiation and Congressional reaction to these agreements had yet to be ascertained. This resulted in the Iranian invitation cited above. It was clear from the outset, nevertheless, that this acceptance was tentative and that a new bid to invite the Council to meet here could be expected.

Holding the next Council meeting here would demonstrate publicly that the Pact association has, in our view, overcome the stresses occasioned by the Iraqi non-participation, that it remains a vigorous going concern, and that it continues to enjoy our strong support. As a corollary, it would raise the morale of the Middle East member states and encourage them actively to continue to support the Pact. This is of particular importance now when the first five-year span of the Treaty will draw to a close in early 1960 and when such evidence of United States support may be a decisive factor in influencing the Middle East member states to continue to participate in the Baghdad Pact association. Adversely, [Page 224]such an invitation could revive the lingering suspicion in some Congressional quarters that we are seeking obliquely to accede to the Baghdad Pact outside of the treaty process.

In considering this matter, several pertinent new factors deserve mention. First, the bilaterals with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan have now been successfully concluded and, in our view at least, lessen the need for formal United States adherence to the Baghdad Pact.6 Second, the Congress was briefed extensively on the bilaterals during their negotiation and they elicited no significant adverse Congressional reaction. Third, Iraq, on March 24, 1959, formally withdrew from the Baghdad Pact. Finally, the Pact is now expected shortly to change its name.

On balance, we believe that the clear boost that inviting the Baghdad Pact Council to meet here would give to our basic objective of continuing and strengthening existing collective security arrangements in the Middle East outweighs the disadvantages. There is now adequate time to brief the Congress in advance on Baghdad Pact developments and to endeavor thereby to allay such Congressional misgivings as may exist. The cost of such a session would be kept to an absolute minimum and should be well within the figure budgeted to send United States delegates to Baghdad Pact sessions. While tentatively scheduled for September, it could doubtless be held at any time this autumn that suits our convenience.

On the basis of past practice, such a session would probably be attended by the Prime Ministers of Turkey and Iran as well as the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.5/5–2259. Confidential. Drafted by Eilts
  2. In a May 14 memorandum to Herter, Henderson recommended that the United States should come out “wholeheartedly” in support of the Baghdad Pact. He went on to state that although there were disadvantages in holding the next pact ministerial meeting in Washington, he felt that the advantages outweighed them.
  3. According to a May 26 memorandum from Goodpaster to John A. Calhoun, Director of the Executive Secretariat, which was attached to the source text, the President “indicated general acceptance of the recommendations” in this memorandum, ordered the Department of State to prepare for “a short speech of welcome” rather than a “major address,” and instructed the Department to consult with congressional leaders.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.
  5. Confidential. Drafted by Eilts on April 15.
  6. See Document 56.
  7. See Document 58.