77. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to the Under Secretary of State (Dillon)0

SUBJECT

  • CENTO Ministerial Council Session

General

The CENTO Ministerial Council session, October 7–9, was satisfactory. Despite earlier reports, the representatives of the regional states acted with restraint and moderation. As had been anticipated, they all stressed the need to strengthen CENTO through additional military and economic aid. Iran and Pakistan expressed misgivings over Soviet penetration of Afghanistan. Iran also cited the growing Communist influence in Iraq. The United States, United Kingdom and Turkey stressed the need for a positive policy toward Afghanistan and Iraq to prevent [Page 242]these countries from being driven closer to the Soviet camp. The Iranians were particularly pleased with the Declaration on Soviet Propaganda against Iran,1 which was issued concurrently with the Final Communiqué.2 Additionally, the subsequent White House statement3 praising Iranian steadfastness was greatly appreciated.

Economic

No specific economic offers were made by the United States. In his public opening remarks,4 the Secretary referred to the substantial U.S. military and economic assistance programs to the regional states. He pointed out that in FY-58 U.S. economic aid to the regional countries had totaled approximately $300 million and in FY-59 approximately $470 million—an increase of more than 50 percent. With reference to U.S. support of CENTO multilateral economic programs, he cautioned, “Clearly, the United States cannot underwrite all CENTO economic projects. Indeed, it has honest doubts about the economic potential of some proposals.” He added that the United States will continue to explore with the CENTO members ways and means in which it may be able to help “in this very important aspect of CENTO activities.”

The Council approved the Report of the Economic Committee and the various resolutions attached to it. Such approval does not constitute any U.S. obligation to finance these projects, but does obligate us to explore whether and how we can help to implement some of them. Much of this can be done in the context of existing technical cooperation programs. The financing of joint capital development projects is still unresolved and the regional states continue to look hopefully to the United States for needed funds.

In this connection, when specifically urged by Iran to give support to the Turk-Iranian railroad link, the Secretary said we were still studying the matter but could make no commitment at this time. [In the meantime, an amended PROAG has been signed with Iran making available to it the $1.9 million of the Richards commitment for use in engineering and construction of the Sharafkhaneh-Qara Tepe segment in Iran. In the case of Turkey, a DeLeuw–Cather group engaged by DLF (using ICA funds) is now in Turkey collecting data to allow a more meaningful study of the economic feasibility of the Mis-Tatvan segment and its possible eligibility for DLF assistance. Thus, some progress is being made in moving the respective rail-heads closer together.]5

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Turkey expressed interest in an Ankara–Tehran–Karachi air navigational aid system, which had been broached by the U.S. delegate to the Economic Committee for the consideration of the member governments. Iran and Pakistan are yet to be heard from on this possible project. ICA’s preliminary planning on the project suggests it may cost about $4.5 million. No firm allocation of funds has yet been made and should not be made until the interest of the other regional CENTO states has been ascertained.

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA Files: Lot 65 D 365, 7th Ministerial Meeting—Correspondence. Secret. Drafted by Eilts.
  2. See Document 76.
  3. For text of the Final Communiqué, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 1028–1029.
  4. See Document 76.
  5. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1959, pp. 1024–1027.
  6. Brackets in the source text.