224. Memorandum From Edward P. Djerejian of the Office of Lebanon, Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Iraq Affairs to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco)1


  • U.S.-Iraqi Relations

Concerning your recommendation at the staff meeting July 20 on possible tangible steps we may take to respond to recent Iraqi initiatives on improving U.S./Iraqi relations, it may prove useful to arrange a meeting between yourself and Dr. Salim Mansoor, the head of the Iraqi Interests Section in Washington, in order to explore and prepare the groundwork for what may be done.

There have been some definite signs that Iraq may be willing to improve its relations with the West, and specifically with the United States. In brief, some of these are:

A. The IPC settlement last March;

B. Increased U.S./Iraqi commercial contacts (e.g. Boeing Aircraft sales negotiations and U.S. oil industry contacts with the Iraqi National Oil Company);

C. Iraq’s more independent stand vis-à-vis the U.S.S.R. as typified by the IPC settlement and Iraq’s closing Eastern Communist and Soviet cultural centers in Baghdad;

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D. Saddam Hussein’s recent significant interviews to Western journalists indicating a willingness to improve relations with the West and specifically with the U.S., and

E. The assignment to Washington of Dr. Mansoor, who is a dynamic and effective diplomat with direct access to the Iraqi leadership.

It would be both timely and opportune for you to convey to Dr. Mansoor that we would welcome an improvement in our relations with Iraq. Specifically, it would be useful to note the progress in our relations at the economic and commercial levels since the IPC agreement last March. Also it would be pertinent to point out that although we have substantive political differences, especially on Middle East issues, we would hope that these differences would not bar progress in our relations at the economic, commercial and cultural levels. In fact, even at the political level we would welcome entering into a dialogue with Iraq on international and regional issues in an effort to bridge our differences, or at least to understand better our respective positions on these issues.

As a small indication of our interest in improving relations, you could tell Mansoor that the Acting Secretary sent the Iraqi Foreign Minister a congratulatory message on the Iraqi National Day celebrations between July 14 and July 17.2 Also you could take this opportunity to give Mansoor a general briefing on our Middle East policy and how we see recent developments in the area and at the UN. This could be a first step toward entering into a more productive dialogue with the Iraqis.

If you agree to see Dr. Mansoor, I would contact him at the beginning of the week to set up an appointment at the end of the week in order to give Mansoor time to obtain his instructions from Baghdad. Also, with your approval, I would give Mansoor the general gist of what the meeting would be about along the lines outlined above in order not to arouse unduly Iraqi suspicions or expectations. We will prepare talking points for the meeting if it is agreed upon.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL IRAQ–US. Secret. Sent through Atherton.
  2. The message was transmitted in telegram 139802 to Baghdad, July 17. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number])
  3. Sisco initialed his approval. Although no record of a meeting between Mansoor and Sisco was found, Mansoor did meet with Korn on August 13. See Document 228.