252. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State1

2065. Subj: Iraqi-US Relations. For the Secretary From Amb. Scali.

Summary: Iraqi Amb El-Shibib, replying to your confidential comments to him at UN luncheon Apr 15,2 said he authorized assure you that Iraq (1) wants continue secret high-level dialogue; (2) will reciprocate any positive USG action; (3) desires increased pragmatic businesslike economic relations with US firms and (4) will not seek to block or conspire against Egyptian-Syrian peace moves even despite adverse Iraqi propaganda. End summary.

1. El-Shibib met with me alone at USUN Mission to relay what he termed “not startling info but our sincere readiness to begin serious dialogue” in answer to your initiative April 15 when you sat beside him at SYG luncheon. El-Shibib said his govt particularly interested in and appreciative of your assurance that USG not interested in encouraging separatist movement in Iraq. This is viewed by his govt as a very positive and helpful attitude on part of USG. However, he said USG cld reinforce this positive attitude by encouraging Iran, which Iraq believes had exceedingly close ties with USG, to follow up easing of border difficulties by serious, meaningful negotiations for permanent settlement of problem. Unless USG puts some pressure on Iran, Tehran govt will feel it has leeway to create continuing problems even though Iraq is encouraged by your comment that USG is not encouraging Barzani rebel movement.

2. In answer to your question about Iraqi relations with Sov Govt, Iraqi Govt wants you to know it is not client of anyone and has not closed its doors to any state. El-Shibib noted that Iraq has restored rela[Page 698]tions with all WE govts, including UK and West Germany, and that its policy is to cooperate economically with all nations. El-Shibib said American companies are beginning to do “good business with Iraq.” Specifically, he noted that an American firm had been given the biggest contract to develop deep-water port in south Iraq and that three American companies are among seven foreign firms invited to submit bids for gas liquifying project. Economically, no doors are closed to the US. Iraq is deeply interested in practical, pragmatic cooperation with USG and hopes to be able to increase such economic relations.

3. El-Shibib said his govt recognizes that important political differences will continue with USG in ME area with little prospect that either side can convince the other of justice of its case in near future. But perhaps by establishing a dialogue, USG and Iraq can limit their differences. Iraq is very willing to do this.

4. Whenever there is a positive sign of action from USG, he said, it will be reciprocated by the Iraqi side just as positively. He cautioned, however, against expecting dramatic developments quickly because any sudden changes would be counter-productive in too short a period of time. El-Shibib said negative Iraqi radio and press reaction to Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement should not be looked on as overly important. Iraq must adopt such an ideological position in view of its traditional attitude but, he said, Iraq will not overthrow or seek to conspire against governments seeking to cooperate with USG. The Iraqi Govt’s attitude should not be viewed as being as negative as its propaganda. Further, whatever “negative” positions Iraq advances diplomatically shld not be overblown in the ME context. El-Shibib mentioned Iraqi-Iranian relations three times. His main point was that Tehran cld be pressed by the USG to be far more reasonable. If Iran’s attitude became more cooperative as a follow-up to the UN SC border compromise, Iraq wld note this as a positive result. In this connection, he acknowledged that US had already played a helpful role in negotiating a compromise via UN SC to ease border tensions.3

5. The time appears at hand, El-Shibib said, for Iraq and Iran to move farther and arrive at an equitable settlement of longstanding differences. El-Shibib said he wld not forget your comment about how US and Mexico’s border was a peaceful one because it had been agreed to with the objective of making it fair for both sides.

6. In answer to his comments, I noted USG had already played leading role in encouraging Iran to compromise its differences with [Page 699] Iraq. Iraqi Govt shld not expect Iran to listen obediently every time USG advised particular course because, as cld be seen from recent Iranian economic moves, Iran frequently takes positions it believes in its own national interests regardless of views of friends. However, I said that USG believed it to be in best interest of region for Iraq–Iran Govts to follow up UN compromise with active negots to settle outstanding issues. Actions as well as words of Iraqi Govt will be watched in weeks ahead to form our own judgment about whether actual Iraqi policy less negative than propaganda which at times of incendiary nature. USG fully recognizes, I said, that propaganda level is no reliable index to what true govt position is in ME particularly.

7. Accordingly, I told him I would relay his views to you, with confident belief you would wish to continue highest-level dialogue. I cautioned against any leaks to any govt or media of discussions saying USG would regard this as sign Iraq not really interested. On US side, I said you would wish to confine those knowing of dialogue only to President and me to guarantee maximum candor, flexibility and results satisfactory to both sides.

8. El-Shibib said he was sure his govt wanted to keep talks confined to Prime Min, Fon Min, and him only. He said he wld be returning to Baghdad Monday or Tuesday4 and would be happy to relay any additional message and would be prepared to wait few days if necessary to hear from you.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL–154, Iraq, 10 March 1974–11 January 1977. Secret; Nodis; Cherokee.
  2. No record of the luncheon has been found.
  3. In UN Security Council Resolution 348, adopted unanimously on May 28, Iran and Iraq agreed to withdraw their armed forces from the border and resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1974, pp. 252–256.
  4. June 10 or 11.