85. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

8883. For Secretary from Ambassador. Subj: Atmospherics in Iran.

1. As you begin your swing through this part of the world, I thought you would want to know that the atmosphere here on US–Iran relations has not been of the best recently but may now have turned the corner. The Fortune and Newsweek articles about Iran2 coming on top of President Ford’s speech in Detroit and your speech in the United Nations3 had about convinced high levels of GOI that the United States was looking for some kind of confrontation with Iran. In the usual conspiratorial view of life which prevails here, it was noted that Newsweek article hit many of the same notes which Fortune did, in fact, it seemed to have been cribbed in significant parts from Fortune.

Since it is well known that the two magazines have entirely separate publishers, the theory was that the United States Government was influencing the two magazines to take the same line. Obviously the patronizing and sneering tone of Newsweek hit a sensitive Iranian nerve coming on top of Fortune’s comment that the Shah has “a reality problem.” Hopefully things are now in better perspective. As result of a judicious use of State 230802 and State 2270674 plus my tongue in an hour long conversation with Minister of Finance and Economics Ansary last Saturday, I believe the broad foundations and significant importance of US–Iran relations are back in perspective. The American press nevertheless is regarded these days by the Shah as “filthy.”

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2. The foregoing derives from various conversations I have had, principally with Ansary, who is, like all important Iranian officials, acutely anxious to reflect the Shah’s wishes. In my talk with him yesterday about your forthcoming visit and formation of a Joint Commission (Tehran 8872),5 he indicated what I have set forth above, i.e., that relations are back in perspective. If I find that this is not accurate or needs qualification, I will of course communicate with you. Otherwise let us proceed on the assumption that your reception here will be warm and will reflect in equal measure whatever importance you choose to attach to this stop in your travels.

3. I might add that of all the Ministers who might be chosen as co-chairman of the Joint Commission, Ansary is the most able and most experienced in the fields of investment, joint ventures, and financial arrangements between countries. He has had considerable experience in working out schemes with France, Germany, Egypt, and so forth. You will find him a quick study. As one-time Ambassador to the United States, he learned a good deal about our private sector as well as the US Government.

4. Since we here have no reading on your discussions with the Saudis, Algerians, etc., on oil prices, we are not in a good position to recommend whether or not you want to tackle this one during your audience with the Shah although it is difficult to see how the subject can be avoided. If you do decide to do so, please remember that he knows a lot more about this subject than King Faisal, or Boumediene, or any other Chief of State with whom you are likely to deal. Therefore may I quietly suggest that a lecture will not go down well. If you choose to begin the oft-suggested dialogue between consumers and producers, the Iranians are most articulate on what they conceive their grievances to be and they want to hear what we would regard as a reasonable means of relating their purchasing power to our rising cost of exports.

5. Good luck! Have a fine trip. We look forward to seeing you here. Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 14, Iran—State Department Telegrams, To SECSTATE–EXDIS (1). Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. See Document 84.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 80.
  4. Telegram 230802, October 19, provided briefing guidance for the Embassies on the Secretary’s Middle East trip. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P840167–2422) Telegram 227067 to Tehran, October 15, conveyed Ford’s birthday wishes to the Shah. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files, D740293–0984)
  5. In telegram 8872 from Tehran, October 21, Helms recommended that Kissinger discuss the Commission with the Shah briefly on November 1 and then have detailed talks the next day with Ansary. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 14, Iran—State Department Telegrams, To SECSTATE–EXDIS (1))