286. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State 0

552. Embtel 551.1 In telling me of decision reduce our respective diplomatic representation to Chargé level, Foreign Minister argued that US had forced GOI take this step by unwillingness make any concessions in respect receipt of Kuwaiti diplomatic representation, in spite of his public warning of last December and his later private appeals through me to find means of avoiding this further step in opposition to Iraq’s clear policy. Said “we” (read Hashim Jawad) had had hard time [Page 703] up to this point preventing action against British and Americans and specifically cited arguments advanced by Lebanese Ambassador and others that it was discriminatory to allow British and American Ambassadors remain when those two countries had long since established diplomatic representation Kuwait. In face these pressures, he had no alternative after we took new affirmative action by receiving credentials Kuwaiti Ambassador.

I reiterated arguments previously used that we had committed ourselves before policy statement of December 232 and could not in honor and honesty go back on our agreement. Pointed out I had given him no cause at any time to believe US Government would change its mind. Reminded him further that we basically disagree on merits Iraq’s claim to Kuwait and gave him summary of legal and historical reasoning contained Hilsman memo of May 23 on Iraqi claim to Kuwaiti and Saudi territory. Added that I thought Iraq was itself to blame in having brought about present situation by adopting unnecessary policy. With reference to legal and historical arguments, Jawad countered that Iraq had great pile of documents, including some from British Foreign Office itself, which it could present to counter any points it might make and insisted there could be no doubt justice Iraqi claim. Refused to admit Iraqi policy on diplomatic relations was mistaken or unnecessary.

He and I both expressed regret that matters had come to this point and I again remarked to unfortunate tendency GOI policy was having in reducing [garble] between Iraq and non-communist countries. Went on to say I hoped, nevertheless, that recall of Ambassadors would not have substantive effect on our relations. Jawad minimized practical importance of reduction of level representation in our case as in others and said that so far as he was concerned he expected matters to proceed normally both in regard to American Embassy Baghdad and Iraqi Embassy Washington. I said I believed this would be our own wish and expectation and that I knew of no plans to change character of our Embassy here. I did point out, however, that withdrawal of Ambassadors was of at least some importance because of psychological impact it could have on popular opinion.

Minister then took initiative to say that he himself wanted to retain British and American Ambassadors and Embassies here because they [Page 704] were of importance to Iraq and he still hoped our respective relations could be friendly and could improve. We should realize on both sides that there were areas of agreement as well as disagreement and should try to increase the former. I replied I heartily agreed and regretted that Iraqi attitudes did not always seem to reflect this philosophy. Arabs in particular, I said, seemed to feel that if anyone did something they did not like they must automatically be opposed to that nation or individual in everything. Jawad admitted there was tendency to go to extremes in Arab countries but asked for understanding on grounds of their political immaturity. I then asked whether he could see any possibility of breaking Kuwaiti deadlock in which Iraq found itself in relation to us and to others. His only answer was a smile and the remark that he was an incurable optimist even when things looked black.

Finally, I told Jawad of my unchanged plan to attend Athens Ambassadorial conference,4 leaving here June 11, and my hope it would be possible for me to return Baghdad for very short time afterwards in order pack up and organize my family for trip to US. He said there was no hurry about my departure but looked doubtful about suggestion that I return after once having left. Said he would have to think about this and would let me know his opinion shortly.

Conversation was amicable and calm throughout, when I left Minister assured me there was nothing personal in request for my recall and that he would be happy to see me again under better circumstances. In reply my tentative query, he said he would be glad to receive me if I had time to make a farewell call before my departure.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.87/6–262. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, London, and Kuwait.
  2. In telegram 551 from Baghdad, June 2, Jernegan informed the Department of State that Foreign Minister Jawad had just asked him to leave Baghdad and that Iraqi Ambassador in Washington Sulaiman was being recalled. (Ibid.) The Iraqi Foreign Ministry had informed the Embassy on April 3 that there would be “serious adverse effect on good relations” if a Kuwaiti Ambassador were received in Washington. (Telegram 461 from Baghdad, April 5; ibid., 786D.02/4–562) President Kennedy received Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdul Rahman al-Atiqi on June 1. (Memorandum of conversation, June 1; ibid., Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330) See Supplement, the compilation on Kuwait.
  3. On December 26, 1961, Jawad had told the Iraqi news agency that the “Iraqi Government will be compelled review attitude toward diplomatic relations with states which establish diplomatic relations with Kuwait.” (Telegram 283 from Baghdad, December 27, 1961; Department of State, Central Files, 686D.00/12–2761) A chronology of events related to the exchange of diplomatic representation between the United States and Kuwait, prepared on May 29, 1962, indicates Jawad’s remarks of December 26, 1961, as the first warning received from Iraq. (Ibid., 611.86D/5–2961)
  4. Not found.
  5. Reference is to the Conference of Chiefs of Mission accredited to Near Eastern and North African countries and to Greece and Turkey held in Athens June 12–15. A summary of the Conference’s principal conclusions is in Department of State, NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 229. See Supplement, the regional compilation. Additional documentation is in Department of State, NEA/NE Files: Lot 65 D 28, Middle East General; and ibid.: Lot 64 D 73, NE-GTI Chiefs of Mission Conference, Athens. Talbot’s brief telegraphic report on the conference was sent in telegram 1340 from Athens, June 16. (Ibid., Central Files, 110.15–TA/6–1662) For Talbot’s report on conclusions reached regarding Israel, see Document 296.
  6. On June 2, Komer sent President Kennedy a brief memorandum that reads: “My face is exceedingly red over failing to let you know that receiving the Kuwait Ambassador would trigger the recall of the Iraqi Ambassador and Jernegan from Baghdad. Of course no break in relations is involved. This has been a standard Iraqi gambit with every country (Japan, Lebanon, Jordan) which has exchanged ambassadors with Kuwait after an Iraqi warning, and we had long been on notice that it was likely in our case too. Indeed we took the basic risk sometime ago when we, along with the UK and the other Arab states, recognized Kuwait’s independence. Your staff was fully in accord with this decision. I can only say that next time when the White House signs off on something, we’ll make sure that the President knows about it too.” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Robert W. Komer)