88. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Iran and Saudi Arabia 1

168989. Subject: Support for FAA. Ref: State 165711; Dhahran 1145; Tehran 4473; London 8354.2

After SiscoMillard meeting October 7 (reftel) UK Embassy passed to FCO our suggestion that UK resume discussion with Iranians in aftermath ZahediFaisal talks to urge Iran do nothing to weaken prospects for FAA pending settlement of dispute over Tunbs and Abu Musa.3 FCO has now replied that HMG has repeatedly assured Iran it doing all possible to facilitate settlement island dispute (Sir William Luce informed Hoveyda4 of this as recently as September 21). Luce will discuss islands problem again with Iranian Ambassador to UK Afshar as well as with Saudi advisor Kamal Adham soonest. UK Embassy Washington, however, has been instructed by FCO to request once again US expression to Iran of our support for FAA.
According to UK Embassy, HMG genuinely concerned that so long as island settlement satisfactory to Iran is not forthcoming GOI will make either public statement or privately inform one or more Gulf Rulers about its opposition to FAA. British consider this eventuality would be highly detrimental to prospects of successful outcome [Page 278]October 24–26 meetings on FAA. UK feels that good word from US to Shah on FAA could forestall such occurrence. (Comment: There is, of course, no way to prevent those Gulf Amirs, particularly Qatar or Dubai, who are tepid to idea of Federation using presumed Iranian opposition as pretext for disrupting October constitutional meetings.)
Department considers that previous commitments to support UK as necessary in attempt to foster future stability and security of Gulf (London 5496)5 require our being responsive. We, however, have no intent involving USG in sticky territorial disputes over Tunbs and Abu Musa and Saudi/Abu Dhabi borders. Dept. believes that any US approach in support of FAA should be made to SAG as well as GOI and in context wider discussions re Gulf.
Ambassadors Tehran and Jidda are requested to seek early meeting with appropriate official host government to exchange views on prospects for future stability in Gulf and to make following points: We raising Gulf situation with both SAG and GOI. US well aware of Iranian and Saudi concern for future stability in the Gulf and cooperation toward this end. US position remains that major Gulf littorals should bear primary responsibility for Gulf stability as British withdraw. USG interested in supporting major littorals in this policy without intervening in Gulf affairs. We also encouraged by indications that nine Amirates may be moving closer toward achieving some sort of viable Federation. While USG has no preconceptions as to form such Federation should take, US continues to support creation of workable Federation, hopefully including all nine Amirates as best prospect for future stability in area. We hope that SAG and GOI share US view on desirability of Federation and are also prepared to support concept.
In discussions you should seek host government’s views on current prospects for Gulf stability, cooperation among larger littorals, and prospects for FAA concept. You may also wish to seek their views on how Iraqi and other subversive threats to area can best be contained.
Should question of territorial disputes arise, either Saudi/Abu Dhabi or Tunbs/Abu Musa, you may wish express our understanding that UK actively seeking in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Iran to bring these issues to prompt solution satisfactory to all parties concerned. You should note USG, while interested in seeing mutually [Page 279]satisfactory resolution these problems, has not involved itself in these issues and considers that to do so would serve no useful purpose.6
In light Tehran’s 4473 Department considering approach to UK, based on results above requested démarches to SAG and GOI, suggesting UK intensify its efforts to move Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah to respond to GOI proposals on islands.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 FAA. Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by Twinam; cleared in NEA/ARP, L/NEA, EUR/BMI, NEA/IRN, NEA, and S/S–O; and approved by Sisco. It was repeated to London, Kuwait, Dhahran, CINCSTRIKE–CINCMEAFSA, and COMIDEASTFOR.
  2. Telegram 165711 to London, October 8, passed on the information that Millard, in an October 7 meeting with Sisco, had requested that the United States urge Iran not to link the formation of the FAA and settlement of the Abu Musa and Tunbs dispute. Sisco suggested that the UK approach Iran directly after the upcoming ZahediFaisal talks. In telegram 1145 from Dhahran, October 11, Dinsmore took issue with MacArthur’s assessment as set forth in telegram 4473 from Tehran, October 10, of the Iranian position, arguing that an assertive Iran would add to Gulf instability and that the islands had no value. In telegram 8354 from London, October 12, Annenberg noted how close the Iranian position on the islands had come to that originally proposed by Iran on June 1. (All ibid.)
  3. The ZahediFaisal talks were to begin on October 19 in Geneva, where the King had gone for medical attention. Zahedi hoped to encourage the Sheikhs of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, through Faisal, to reach an accommodation with Iran that ensured the islands did not fall into unfriendly hands. (Telegram 4394 from Tehran, October 6, and telegram 4473 from Tehran, October 10; both ibid.) Faisal and Zahedi failed to arrive at an understanding, increasing the likelihood that Iran would use force to take the disputed islands. (Telegram 9068 from London, November 2, and telegram 4790 from Tehran, November 3; both ibid.)
  4. Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Prime Minister of Iran.
  5. Telegram 5496 from London, July 12. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 S)
  6. MacArthur met with Acting Foreign Minister Khalatbari on October 15, who insisted that the island dispute be settled before the FAA came into existence and that Iran had no intention of making this stand public prior to the October 24–26 deputy rulers’ meeting. (Telegram 4546 from Tehran, October 15; ibid., POL 19 FAA) Thacher met on October 15 with Acting Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mas’ud, who emphasized Iraqi-Soviet schemes to open the Gulf to the Soviets, the need for clarification of British policy, the desirability of a more active U.S. role in Gulf affairs, and Saudi support for a federation of nine. (Telegram 3836 from Jidda, October 15; ibid.)