5. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Ball to President Johnson1


  • Proposed Unofficial Visit by the Shah of Iran, May–June 1964

The exhibit, “7,000 Years of Iranian Art,” which had a highly successful tour of European capitals last year, is now scheduled for a tour of United States cities, beginning in the spring of 1964. The formal opening of the United States tour will take place at the National Gallery of Art in Washington some time between May 25 and June 6, 1964. We think that the value of this event as a landmark in United States-Iranian cultural relations would be greatly enhanced if the Shah of Iran were invited to open the exhibit. This visit might be combined with a trip to Los Angeles, since we have been informed that the University of California at Los Angeles is considering the possibility of awarding the Shah an honorary degree at the commencement exercises in June.

The Shah last visited the United States, in an official capacity, in April 1962. An unofficial visit for the purposes mentioned above would be useful in demonstrating to him continuing United States interest in the welfare of his country and approval of his program of social reform.

If the proposed unofficial visit is made, we would recommend that you and Mrs. Johnson host an informal luncheon for the Shah (and the [Page 13] Empress if she accompanies him) and that you also have a private informal talk with the Shah on the same occasion. If it should prove impossible to schedule these events, we would not advise the National Gallery of Art to invite the Shah to open the exhibit and we would discourage the University of California from awarding him an honorary degree.

George W. Ball 2
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 IRAN. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Tiger; cleared by Jernegan and in draft by Chief of Greek, Turkish, Iranian, and Cyprus Programs in CU/NEA John T. Forbes, Assistant Chief of Protocol for Visits and Public Events Samuel L. King, Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs Windsor G. Hackler, and Special Assistant for Congressional Relations (Appropriations) to the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration William R. Little. A typed note on the source text indicates that the Department was informed of the President’s approval on February 1.
  2. Printed from a copy that indicates Ball signed the original.