256. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1

170249. Subject: Iraqi-Arab States Relations. Reference: Tehran 6206.2 Beirut pouch Baghdad.

1. We can well understand Iranian suspicions of Iraq, but there is some divergence in their views of the situation and our own current as[Page 704]sessment. It appears to us that Iraq is currently genuinely interested in improving its relations with other Arab states, and with West as well. Iraqi Government apparently wants to break out of its isolation and to move, albeit gradually, into a position where it can again have some voice in regional affairs.

2. We believe such movement is in US interest and our inclination would be to encourage expansion of Iraqi contacts with Egypt, in hope that this will lead to a lessening of Iraq’s hostility toward US Middle East initiative. Any move that would ease Iraq more closely into line with the more moderate elements of the Arab world can only help to stabilize the area and make our task in Arab-Israeli negotiations easier. As regards Iraqi desire to loosen ties with USSR, this has been evident for more than a year and is obviously a development we welcome. We would hope that Iraqi-Egyptian rapprochement would further reinforce this trend. You may be aware that within past year Iraq has actively sought expanded commercial ties with US.

3. You are authorized to share above analysis with Alam.3 Admittedly, time span of this development is too brief to draw hard and fast conclusions and we shall continue to take careful look at developments in Iraq. We recognize that Soviets remain a major factor in Iraq and that Iraqi policies remain far from amenable to Iranian and U.S. interests, and would not want our analysis to be interpreted as suggesting we think there is any cause for complacency about Iraqi situation. We welcome GOI views and assessments and wish continue useful dialogue on this subject which is of mutual interest.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D740213–0945. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Mary H. Maughan (NEA/ARN); cleared by Korn, Naas, Saunders, Sober, and Albert A. Vaccaro (INR/RNA/NE); and approved by Atherton. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, and Moscow.
  2. In telegram 6206 from Tehran, July 28, the Embassy conveyed the views of the Shah and his visitor, King Hussein of Jordan, that Iraq’s efforts to improve relations with the Arab countries and loosen Iraqi ties to the Soviet Union were insincere and represented a tactical move to divert attention from Iraq’s internal problems. Both requested the U.S. view of the matter. (Ibid., D740204–1125)
  3. Helms asked Sisco in telegram 6521 from Tehran, August 7, if these views actually represented what the Secretary and he wished to be passed to Alam, since they would be unpopular with the Iranian Government. (Ibid., D740216–0868) Sisco responded in telegram 172922 to Tehran, August 8, that this U.S. view should be presented unless Helms thought there was an overriding reason not to. He added that Helms should point out that the assessment was tentative and cautious, and that although it differed from Iran’s it was being shared in the context of close U.S.-Iranian ties and mutuality of interests. The United States fully recognized the prominent role the Soviets continued to play in Iraq and the potential they had for mischief in the area. (Ibid., D740217–1154)