[Page 649]

228. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • U.S.-Iraqi Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • Dr. Salim Mansoor, Head of Iraqi Interests Section
  • Mr. David A. Korn, Country Director, NEA/ARN
  • Mr. Gregory D. Strong, Political/Economic Officer, NEA/ARN

Dr. Mansoor called at the Department immediately following his return from consultations in Baghdad where he discussed the prospects for improvement in relations between the United States and Iraq following the statements made to Western journalists by Revolutionary Command Council Vice President Saddam Hussein on July 13.2

Dr. Mansoor said that with regard to overall political relations, and the possibility of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the United States and Iraq, he had been told that there is no change in Iraq’s policy. Before diplomatic and political relations between Iraq and the U.S. can improve, the United States must show some evidence that it is changing its “policy of all-out support for Israel” which is helping Israel to “carry out its aggressive and expansionist policies against the Arab countries.” Mansoor said Saddam Hussein’s July 13 statement represented nothing new; Iraq has always been ready to improve its relations with the United States when the United States changes its policy.

As regards economic relations, Dr. Mansoor said he was told during his consultations in Baghdad that American companies are welcome to do business in Iraq on the same basis as others. Dr. Mansoor said he was assured that there would be no discrimination against American companies.

Dr. Mansoor said he had also raised with his Foreign Ministry the question of contacts between the two Interests Sections and the respective Foreign Ministries. With regard to contacts between Mr. Lowrie and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Dr. Mansoor was told that since it is the Iraqi practice for all such contacts to be made through the Protocol Office, business would continue to be done in Baghdad in this way. However, since this is not the U.S. practice, Dr. Mansoor was told that the [Page 650]Foreign Ministry had no objection to his dealing directly with the appropriate political or economic offices in the State Department.

Mr. Korn said he was pleased about what Dr. Mansoor had to report regarding economic relations. Mr. Korn said the Department continues to receive frequent inquiries from American firms about doing business with Iraq and that we have encouraged their interest. Mr. Korn said he regretted that Iraq continues to take a negative view in regard to political relations with the United States. Mr. Korn said that U.S. policy is one of seeking peaceful settlement in the Middle East and that the United States will continue its effort in this regard. There is obviously disagreement between the United States and Iraq on the broader aspects of policy in regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mr. Korn said that in view of this it is perhaps best that Iraq and the United States continue to work together in those areas where cooperation can take place, the foremost being, of course, the economic areas.

Dr. Mansoor said that he was under official instructions from his government to inquire about the United States position in regard to Israel’s seizure of an Iraqi Airlines plane on August 10,3 and to request American support for Iraq’s complaint in the Security Council. Mr. Korn called Dr. Mansoor’s attention to what the Department press spokesman had said about the August 10 incident; Mr. Korn said he thought the press spokesman’s remarks were quite clear. Dr. Mansoor said the U.S. should issue a statement “condemning” Israel’s action, not just deploring it. Mr. Korn said we consider the Israeli action unjustified and will make this view known in the Security Council debate. He suggested that the Iraqi UN Mission keep in touch with the U.S. Mission during the course of the debate.

Mr. Korn said that during Dr. Mansoor’s absence in Baghdad the Department had been queried by the Executive Protective Service as to whether protection for the Iraqi Interests Section and for Dr. Mansoor’s residence was still needed. A State Department officer had called Mr. Safar at the Interests Section and asked for his view; since Mr. Safar expressed no opinion one way or the other, we told the EPS that there was no need to continue the protection. Mr. Korn asked if Dr. Mansoor felt differently about this. Dr. Mansoor said Mr. Safar had told him that he had heard from a State Department official that there were “threats to the life of the Iraqi Consul.” Mr. Korn promised to look into the matter and to be in touch with Dr. Mansoor.

[Page 651]

In closing Mr. Korn said he had a personal request he wanted to make to Dr. Mansoor. An American citizen, Dr. Jacob Shammash of Boston, Mass., had been in touch with the Department regarding the whereabouts of his brother, Shaul Shamash, who was arrested in Baghdad in the fall of 1972. Mr. Korn said he realized that Shaul Shamash is an Iraqi citizen and was not seeking in any way to interfere in Iraq’s internal affairs. However, in view of the fact that Dr. Jacob Shammash and other relatives of Shaul Shamash are American citizens, Mr. Korn did want to ask Dr. Mansoor if there was anything he could do to determine the whereabouts of Shaul Shamash. Dr. Mansoor wrote down the name and said he would see what he could find out.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL IRAQ–US. Secret. Drafted by Strong and Korn.
  2. See Document 223 and footnote 5 thereto.
  3. On August 10, Israel intercepted an Iraqi Airways flight from Beirut to Baghdad and forced it down on Israeli soil in hopes of seizing members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who were reportedly booked on the flight. The plane was detained for 2 hours. The Department of State issued a statement on August 11 that it deplored the incident and was making its views known to Israel. (The New York Times, August 11 and 12, 1973)