28. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1



London, April 23-24, 1968

Scope Paper

I. U.S. Policy Interests

CENTO continues to have a positive, if limited, value to the U.S. This value is mainly political. The effectiveness of CENTO as a military alliance is marginal, and its military activities proceed at a low level, but it does continue to have a certain military usefulness. CENTO has provided a security umbrella for the region against Communist aggression, and its existence is a key element in signaling the posture of intent of the U.S. and U.K. to defend the integrity of the region from Communist attack, and of acceptance by the regional members of such support.

CENTO increases the U.S. (and U.K.) channels of communication with the regional members and the number of ways we can cooperate with them. It provides our only security tie with Iran. We have a leading role in CENTO economic development activities, the alliance’s most active program. Iran and Turkey continue to see moderate advantages in cooperating with us in CENTO, and even Pakistan—which believes that changing circumstances have left CENTO with little current relevance—has been reluctant to cut this tie with the West.

Our best course at present is to maintain without significant change our current sympathetic but relaxed policy toward, limited commitment to, and moderately active participation in CENTO. The utility of CENTO to us and our policy of continuing support depend on the regional countries’ continuing desire to maintain the alliance.

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II. Current Situation in CENTO

CENTO is in a quiet phase, one of marking time. There is tacit agreement among the partners not to stir up controversial issues or to take initiatives which upset normal cooperation.

The active new Secretary General, Turgut Menemencioglu, is fully alert to the special problem of Pakistan’s attitude and hopes that new economic initiatives can be found which would be attractive to the Pakistanis. He is looking for ways to make CENTO more meaningful within its limitations, and would like to improve the image of CENTO among the peoples of the regional countries as being relevant and responsive to their own needs. The Secretary General is also seeking to modify some of the formalities and rigidities which have characterized the functioning of CENTO and generally to speed up the completion of business.

We are pleased that both Turkey and Iran appear to be increasingly realistic with regard to the limitations on U.S. and British economic aid funds under CENTO. A new disturbing factor is the strain which has recently developed in Iran’s relations with the U.K. over the future of the Persian Gulf area, and to a lesser extent in Iran’s relations with Pakistan over the latter’s increasingly close ties with the Arabs. If these strains are not eased, the alliance stands to suffer generally.

III. Scope of U.S. Participation in CENTO

There is special importance to our economic support of CENTO which, though limited in volume, is the most “visible” operational effort in which we are engaged under the alliance. The U.S. supports a continuing AID technical assistance program now in the $400,000 range (after a recent $100,000 cut due to the general reduction in AID funds) that is a primary source of substance for the current CENTO economic program. Some other AID funds also get a CENTO label. The U.S. continues to expend substantial funds previously committed to such capital projects as the CENTO railroad between Iran and Turkey.

We continue high level participation in meetings of the Military Committee and take an active part in CENTO military exercises, planning, and development programs. We contribute U.S. personnel to the permanent military staff in Ankara, as well as to the civilian Secretariat. We also participate in the activities of the alliance in the field of counter-subversion.

IV. U.S. Posture and Aims in this Meeting

There are no items on the agenda that should cause real difficulty. The outlook of the British is similar to ours, and we should coordinate generally with them—using care that there is no appearance of our [Page 73] ganging up on the regionals. We and our British hosts for the meeting will: a) expect a wide-ranging discussion of international affairs; b) avoid controversy on the basic military points of difference, while reassuring the regionals of our continuing political and economic support for CENTO; c) support efforts for expeditious conduct of CENTO business.

During its thirteen years of existence, CENTO has been helping to stimulate regional economic cooperation and planning among Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. In the past few years the regional members have shown increased interest in such collaboration, as evidenced in their creation of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) among themselves. (The RCD Foreign Ministers are scheduled to meet in Tehran April 14-15.) This is a promising trend which we encourage. We are willing to respond to the regional countries’ desires to highlight CENTO’s economic development aspect. We are adapting our regular contribution to the economic program to concentrate efforts, as the regionals wish, on the fields of agriculture, industrial development and health.

At the same time we expect that more should be done by the regional members themselves to exploit the potential of regional cooperation. The availability of U.S. resources to underwrite CENTO activities is more limited than previously; our CENTO partners are all aware of our balance of payment difficulties. The regional members know too that the great bulk of our aid to them has been under bilateral programs rather than under a CENTO label. The fact that all our assistance, “bilateral” or “regional,” has come from the same source should be clearly recognized.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 69 D 182, CF 293, 15th CENTO Ministerial Meeting, London, April 23-24, 1968, Vol. VII. Confidential. Drafted by NEA/NR Multilateral Organizations Adviser Robert A. Stein; cleared by Thomas Ball of the AID/NESA Office of South Asia Affairs, Irving Cheslaw (EUR/BMI), Colonel March (OJCS), Reed (DOD/ISA), Sober, Battle, and Katzenbach. This session of the council was attended by Foreign Minister Ardeshir Zahedi of Iran, Foreign Minister S.K. Dehlavi of Pakistan, Foreign Minister Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil of Turkey, Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart of the United Kingdom, and Under Secretary of State Katzenbach. For text of the communique, see Department of State Bulletin, May 13, 1968, p. 613. For documentation relating to the session, see the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files: Lot 69 D 182, CF 293, 15th CENTO Ministerial Meeting, London, April 23-24, 1968, Vol. VII, and Department of State, NEA/RA Files: Lot 75 D 312, CENTO Files, 1965-1968 and CENTO Ministerial Files, 1962-1968.