75. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ardeshir Zahedi, Ambassador of Iran
  • President Gerald Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[The press was admitted briefly]

President Ford: The orchids you sent to Mrs. Ford are beautiful.

Zahedi: They express our feelings.

[The press is ushered out]

Zahedi: I want to express our sadness about Rodger Davies.2 We share your sorrow and we are all shocked. I have lost a personal friend with whom I worked closely during the Mideast hostilities.

President Ford: I participated with the Secretary in the ceremony. It is a tragedy, with a daughter 20 and a son 16.

Kissinger: He had worked so hard here, we sent him to Cyprus for a rest really.

President Ford: Is it nice?

Kissinger: Beautiful. Many Foreign Service Officers buy land there.

Zahedi: It is really so sad. I sent my whole embassy to the airport. I, of course, couldn’t go.

I was very pleased with the Rockefeller appointment.3 We have very close contacts with the Rockefellers. David is setting up a bank [Page 230] branch in Tehran. Our Minister of Finance and Minister of Economics—he wears two hats—is coming here to set up a joint commission.

I am glad Secretary Kissinger is heading your side rather than Simon. [laughter]

Kissinger: They don’t care about me—just so long as it is not Simon.

Zahedi: At the first one he talked to me but said he couldn’t wait and went ahead and announced.

President Ford: The reaction to Rockefeller has been great. Even Arthur Goldberg was not vitriolic. I know him well and we complement each other. He really seemed gung ho.

Kissinger: I never saw him so happy. He just wants to serve.

President Ford: He called Betty and me late last night. Happy4 is coming here Thursday. Betty is having her for lunch and we’ll have him for that dinner I told you about.

Zahedi: I have been talking to our Ambassadors in Paris and London, and also His Majesty’s feeling was excellent. He knows Iran and we have close relationship with Iran [him?].

President Ford: I hope in the not too distant future I can get to meet the Shah. I like to deal on a personal basis.

Zahedi: I agree. Anything I can do to assist in that. The U.S. holds the highest place in his heart. It has always been so. The U.S. has helped when we needed it, without strings. We remember those days—as I will say in an address at Kent University. So many forget all that the U.S. has done.

President: That is very useful. In Middle America they don’t always appreciate foreign aid, and it helps to hear foreigners express this.

Zahedi: I will do it. I will also be in Southern California where I am going to present a check for $1 million.

Kissinger: The Shah has always been our best friend. Last fall several countries permitted Soviet overflights. One Israeli Minister did and he was promptly so tried [fired?].

Zahedi: The oil problem—there is one. I want to do what I can. Jamieson had a good talk and lunch with the Shah.5 A minor problem is participation with Saudi Arabia. 60/40 and what they pay for participation. It should be at 93% of the posted price—$10 something. Some [Page 231] countries want to do away with the posted price. We get $7 for our particular oil and Saudi Arabia and others get $10.

Kissinger: The basic point is that these prices are complicated. The Shah’s view is he gets 15% less on buy-back oil than the Saudis. Iran is tied to the price of oil, but Saudi Arabia can maneuver around and vary the participation.

Zahedi: I will work on it and we want to help and we understand the problem.

President: Please express to the Shah my deep appreciation for this attitude.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 5. Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original. The meeting was held in the Oval Office. In a briefing memorandum to the President, August 17, Acting Executive Secretary of the Department of State Gammon noted that the means by which the United States could pressure Iran for lower oil prices were limited, and a sharp political confrontation would be inconsistent with broader U.S. policy objectives. (Ibid., Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 12, Iran (1)) In another briefing memorandum for Ford, August 21, Kissinger emphasized that while U.S. and Iranian ideas about fair oil prices differed, Iran “has been friendly and cooperative with regard to most major US objectives, and we are seeking to handle our differences on oil prices in an amicable manner—as an issue to be resolved among allies.” (Ibid.)
  2. Rodger Davies, Ambassador to Cyprus, was assassinated by Greek-Cypriot gunmen on August 19.
  3. Nelson Rockefeller was appointed Vice President in August and confirmed by Congress on December 19.
  4. Rockefeller was married to Margaretta “Happy” Rockefeller.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 70, and Document 73.