285. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

94043. Subject: UK and Persian Gulf. Ref: State 93645; London 5236.2 From Secretary for Ambassador.

View info reftel re imminence British decision accelerate withdrawal from Persian Gulf, request you convey following personal message from me to FonSec Brown soonest:

“I am deeply disturbed by information which has just reached me to the effect that HMG may be considering accelerating its withdrawal from the Persian Gulf. As you know, we attach very high importance to the maintenance of the British position in the Persian Gulf for the indefinite future. We welcomed the repositioning of some of your forces there from Aden last year as an earnest of your determination to continue to play the essential stabilizing role in the Gulf which has been so helpful to us all for so long. While economies can no doubt be made, I would earnestly hope that when we meet next week HMG will not have taken any irrevocable decisions. In our view, fixing of specific timetable at this early stage would be likely feed instability in the region and increase your own problems in arranging eventual orderly departure.”

In event Brown already departed for Tokyo, I leave to your discretion how best communicate our concern to top level of HMG. Nick Katzenbach’s visit January 6 may afford additional opportunity stress our viewpoint.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 6 UK. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Drafted by Brewer; cleared by Battle, BMI, and G; and approved by Rusk. Repeated to Dhahran, Jidda, Kuwait, Tehran, and Paris.
  2. In telegram 93645, January 5, the Department of State reviewed efforts to discourage the British from announcing a definite timetable for withdrawals East of Suez. (Ibid., DEF 1 UK) Telegram 5236 from London, January 5, reported that the British had not yet set a firm date for these withdrawals. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 5273 from London, January 6, Bruce reported that he delivered the message to Brown who would reply directly to the Secretary. Bruce added: “My impression is that he is sympathetic to our views, but has encountered strong opposition in the Cabinet.” (Ibid., DEF 6 UK)