28. Memorandum for the President’s Files by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Meeting with the Shah of Iran on Wednesday, July 25, 1973 at 10:25 to 12 noon in the Oval Office


  • The President
  • The Shahanshah of Iran
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

The Shah remarked at the outset that the Blair House was getting more and more pleasant.

The President emphasized that in terms of his own foreign travel plans, he regarded an annual meeting with the Shah as essential. He hoped to visit Tehran again, perhaps on his next visit to the PRC or the USSR.

The conversation turned briefly to Latin America. The President noted how hard it was to get through to the Latins. The Shah mentioned that Brazil was the key country. The President agreed.

The discussion turned to the Communist world. The President pointed out that Brezhnev was getting old. He needed a lot of rest. At the Summit in Washington there had been continual scheduling problems, partly because of this. Our relations with the Chinese were good. Chou En-lai had opted for the line of co-existence. Mao was confined to only the high-level issues. The Chinese situation was very precarious because of the age of these leaders. The Shah mentioned that he had heard Chou En-lai was coming to Pakistan. If so, the Shah would invite him to Tehran. When the Empress was in Peking, the Prime Minister had been with her. So Chou En-lai should pay a return visit to Iran.

The President said he wanted to mention the vacancy on the Vietnam ICCS. He told the Shah it would mean a lot to us if Iran were willing to take Canada’s place. The Shah replied positively. If Iran joins the ICCS it would be necessary to recognize North Vietnam. But it would establish Iran as a power in the Indian Ocean. It would be a good [Page 111] move, the Shah concluded.2 The President said he was inclined to think more that Iran was thought of as a world power. The Shah responded that Iran must be thought of as a medium power, like France or Britain. He thought the Chinese attitude towards Iran reflected this status. The French send their Prime Minister to the airport to greet him.

The conversation turned to the Middle East. The President stressed that our position was to be helpful. But the Egyptians must get into some kind of negotiations so that we could use our influence during the negotiations. The President said that he would not let domestic considerations influence him. He owed nothing to the Israelis. If the Egyptians would place some trust in him they would find they had a good friend in court. The Shah mentioned that he had had a good talk about this subject with Dr. Kissinger. He would tell Ismail all this, through Zahedi [the Iranian Ambassador in Washington]. The President reaffirmed that everybody’s interest would be served if the talks got off dead center. They could count on his being totally fair and not tilting towards Israel. The Shah stated that he had told the Egyptians that this President was their best hope. This was true in other areas as well, the Shah believed. He felt strongly that the President’s effort for the Year of Europe must succeed. France was coming along. Britain was all right. By the time the President left office he could leave the world a much better world.

Iran’s real friends were the Israelis, the Shah noted, but Iran had to stand for the principle of non-acquisition of territory by force. The Saudi situation was crucial for the free world. The oil potential could change for the benefit of the free world. In Afghanistan we had been taken by surprise. We should try to get their cooperation. But if they are adamant, then Iran would have to work on its own. If we don’t find someone we may have to act unilaterally.

Dr. Kissinger noted that Arab monetary reserves could destabilize the whole monetary system.3

The President emphasized the importance of giving consideration to this whole problem.

The Shah, with great exuberance,4 declared to the President his strong feeling that Iran’s destiny was to seize the opportunity that history had presented to it.

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On the Middle East problem, the Shah added that Hussein was pressing for a meeting with Helms.

The Shah reiterated his sympathy with the President’s approach. When liberals are in power, everything goes. When they are not in power, they become moralistic. It is a clear double standard, the President agreed. The Shah pointed out how each successive leader of the Communist world had had to change its line—from Lenin, to Stalin, to Khrushchev, and now to Brezhnev. Then they wind up buying technology from the United States. Iran, the Shah concluded, can look to the future with optimism provided we remain friends. The President said he shared this view.5 The Shah expressed his belief that charity for people who didn’t work created psychological problems. The Germans had no such problem. But Britain had become too lazy; the pressure had been too much. The Chinese work hard, and this was the secret of their success.

In conclusion the President expressed his pleasure at his meetings with the Shah. A visit with the Shah was always a personal pleasure for the President, because the two leaders thought so much alike.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS–28, Geopolitical File, Iran Chronological File, Memcons, Notebook, 30 May ’72–15 September ’73. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. All brackets are in the original.
  2. In telegram 5882 from Tehran, August 20, the Embassy sent word that Iran would officially announce its agreement to become an ICCS member on August 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number])
  3. HK note: President totally preoccupied, doesn’t grasp problem. [Handwritten footnote in the original.]
  4. HK note: Shah is clearly seized by opportunity, exuberant. [Handwritten footnote in the original.]
  5. HK note: President passes up opportunity and is quite evasive. [Handwritten footnote in the original.]