123. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1

98266. Subject: Iran, Persian Gulf and Middle East Situation.

Iranian Ambassador Ansary in call January 12 on Under Secretary Rostow raised Shah’s proposal for joint Iranian-Saudi-Kuwaiti oil activities in Persian Gulf. Rostow said it useful idea but tied up with problem of median line.2 Assuming progress on median line problem, Rostow indicated we would be willing support Iranian efforts for regional cooperation. Both efforts can proceed at same time but it important Iran take initiative on median line question.
Rostow stressed importance regional cooperation has increased in light of probable UK decision about its future presence in Gulf. He said Secretary had spoken strongly to Foreign Secretary Brown concerning importance of UK decision to security of Free World but we do not know what effect our representations will have in London or for how long. Our impression is that decision on 1971 withdrawal “not quite” final. We hope it can be changed but in meantime we all have to plan. The risk of radical Arab movements into the area and the problem of security for the Gulf will not go away. Ansary said British had indicated they were thinking of granting complete independence to some of Sheikhdoms and federating others. In this connection, Bahrein is problem for Iran.
Concerning future arrangements for Gulf, Ansary said GOI believes joint air and naval policing of area with participation of Sheikhdoms might be desirable. Defense pact of some kind might also be possible. He asked for Rostow’s views. Rostow replied we wish encourage cooperation in area, including Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, for both development and security. We are well disposed encourage sympathetically efforts in these directions including policing which are politically feasible. He said it important also in order to bring about change in Iraq’s orientation in the longer run. In response Ansary’s comment all this costs money Rostow said our estimate of annual local costs of British effort in Gulf is about 14 million pounds. [Page 260] New arrangements in Gulf need not duplicate what British have been doing, and burden would not fall entirely on Iran.
On other aspects Mideast situation, Rostow mentioned he will wish get Shah’s reading on his visit with Feisal when Rostow is in Tehran February 7-9. We regard Feisal as key, constructive figure in our efforts strengthen King Hussein. On Jarring mission, Rostow said neither Jarring nor we are discouraged although nothing decisive has yet happened.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 19 TRUCIALST. Secret. Drafted by Eliot; cleared by Dinsmore and Staff Assistant Robert G. Grey, Jr. in the Office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; and approved by Rockwell. Repeated to London, Jidda, Dhahran, Kuwait, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Discovery of large deposits of oil under the waters of the Persian Gulf sharpened differences between the Iranian and Saudi Governments over the location of a median line to delineate oil exploration and exploitation rights between them.