162. Airgram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State 1

A-786

SUBJECT

  • Visit of Assistant Secretary Talbot to Baghdad.

Mr. Talbot’s truncated and brief visit (9:15 a.m. March 21 to 2:30 p.m. March 22)2 was politically successful despite its brevity, despite the fact that the bulk of it fell on a Moslem “Sunday,” despite the necessity for making arrangements on short notice, despite the twelve-hour delay in reaching here from Ankara, and despite the fact that his arrival coincided with an airport ceremony marking the departure of President Aref and Foreign Minister Abd al-Hamid for Pakistan and India.

Apart from briefings and discussions within the Embassy, and mixed business-culture visits to Babylon and Iraqi museums, Mr. Talbot was able to meet several ministers and other leading military and civilian personalities at social gatherings (including the moderate Kurdish leader, Baba Ali), talk privately with the British Ambassador and Foreign Office Under Secretary Ali Haidar Suleiman, and meet with the Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister separately.

The atmosphere, which on Friday could have been interpreted as correct but cool, warmed up considerably on Saturday in the various calls and at the Ambassador’s luncheon. At this final event, which just preceded air departure, the several Iraqi ministers present spent a good deal of time arguing US policy on Israel. While more constructive conversation would have been useful, Mr. Talbot was very effective in his responses.

The main event, from which several conclusions can be drawn, was the fifty-minute talk with the Prime Minister, who was pleasant and restrained in his handling of controversial subjects.

Several memoranda of conversations are enclosed.3 No effort has been made to cover all talks.

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Conclusions:

1.
Ranking officials from Washington are welcome and will be treated with courtesy (in contrast to past years).
2.
The GOI is a moderate regime and does not wish to let the Palestine issue destroy mutually advantageous relations with the US, but we shall hear a good deal from the GOI about our policy in this area.
3.
The GOI is expecting continuing and increasing economic and technical benefits from the US, and the field for cultural and educational cooperation is a wide one.
4.
The GOI genuinely wants to handle the Kurdish problem4 in a fashion which will reasonably satisfy the bulk of the Kurds and isolate the extremists. The GOI is likely to want Title II surplus food.
5.
The current political situation is the most hopeful in years, and there is good prospect for its continuation. The Prime Minister and President are cooperating.
Robert C. Strong
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, ORG 7 NEA. Confidential. Drafted by Strong. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Kuwait, Taiz, Tel Aviv, Tehran, London, Paris, Moscow, Ankara, Basra, Aleppo, Dhahran, and Jerusalem. Sent by air pouch.
  2. Assistant Secretary Talbot visited a number of Near East countries on this trip.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. A cease-fire between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish insurgents was announced in early February.