187. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State1

1022. Call on President Aref. Baghdad 964,2 State 91650.3

Called on Aref for 50 minutes November 29. Aref obviously very pleased at message from President Johnson and at my initiative make call. Gave him text of oral message on plain paper.
Aref asked me transmit to President his appreciation for message, his best wishes for speedy recuperation and good health in future, his best wishes for President’s personal success, his hope that American people will enjoy increasing prosperity and happiness, and his hope that US will continue its tradition of helping the weak and will continue to assist in development of underdeveloped countries; if US does this without hidden purpose, US will benefit immensely and its position in world will be enhanced far beyond any costs involved.
I gave Aref impressions from trip to north and indicated that appeared best way USG could help at [apparent omission] obtain USG approval. Aref expressed satisfaction.4
Reviewed other ways US cooperating in Iraq development: We encourage reputable companies seek contracts and others enter joint ventures such as sulfur, vehicle assembly and tires, but absence investment guarantee agreement is serious barrier. Aref understood but avoided commitment.
Aref proposed US assistance for Euphrates and Eski Mosul Dams. I explained background of US offer on Eski Mosul and said USG uninterested in less important Euphrates Dam. At his request made suggestions for Iraqi first steps toward consortium for Eski Mosul pointed to necessity for good Iraqi relations with potential contributors, and discussed claims of contractors. Aref pointed to Iraqi potential to help meet prospective world food shortage. I indicated USG interest [Page 370] in Iraqi agricultural development and particular need for training technical-level manpower.
I referred to numerous rumors and press comments accusing USG and Embassy of nefarious actions. Said I could assure Aref neither USG nor Embassy working against Iraqi interests and had no intention doing so. US concerned to support Iraqi search for stability and prosperity. Aref said he aware of this but went on that in zeal know what is going on “boys at Embassy” sometimes in contact with “suspicious elements”; Embassy knows whom he means (he said this in all good humor).
Comment: Meeting was cordial, timely and achieved purpose. Was careful avoid committing USG to anything new. Appreciate having message from President to deliver; it was very valuable.
Detailed account of meeting being sent by airgram.5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 IRAQ. Confidential; Limdis.
  2. Telegram 964 from Baghdad, November 22, contained Strong’s suggested text for an oral message from the President to President Aref. (Ibid.) See Document 186.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 186.
  4. The detailed account of the meeting in airgram A-383 from Baghdad, December 1, reports the Ambassador’s statement to Aref that it seemed to him that the most promising way the U.S. Government could be of assistance with reconstruction in the short term would be food-for-work programs, whereby people would return to their villages and be paid mostly in food to rebuild houses, schools, clinics, etc. and to repair roads. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 1 IRAQ-US)
  5. Airgram A-383 from Baghdad, December 1. (Ibid.) See footnote 4 above.