144. Letter From Secretary of State Rogers to the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Douglas-Home)1 2

Dear Alec:

Since we discussed the Gulf Islands dispute in London last April, I have followed this difficult problem with continuing interest. I now understand that Sir William Luce has negotiated an agreement in principle with the Iranians on an arrangement which would satisfy basic Iranian demands. I consider this a significant and encouraging development and wish to express my great admiration for the skill displayed on your side in bringing about this agreement.

We have received a message from the Shah indicating that the terms to which he has agreed are as far as he can go in being accommodating on this question. He has told us that if the Arab shaykhs refuse to accept the terms to which the United Kingdom and Iran have agreed, Anglo-Iranian relations will be seriously jeopardized, Iran will denounce the proposed Federation of Arab Amirates, and Iran will reserve its rights to take such action as it deems necessary to protect its national interest. I am informed that the Shah has conveyed a similar message to you.

I fully understand the difficulty of bringing the Arab shaykhs to accept this arrangement. I am confident, however, that the terms which you have negotiated on their behalf are as good as the shaykhs can expect.

I know we are fully in accord that an amicable settlement of this nature is essential if there is to be cooperation and stability in the Gulf in the [Page 2] future. In looking at ways we might assist, I see little we could add to your efforts at this time to influence the Gulf shaykhs. We do intend, however, to reply to the Shah that we are confident the United Kingdom will make every effort to bring this promising opportunity for a settlement to a successful conclusion.

With best personal regards,
William P. Rogers
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33 PERSIAN GULF. Secret. Drafted by Twinam; and cleared by Davies, Burns, Dowell, and Murphy. In Telegram 167813 to London, September 9, Sisco requested that the Ambassador ask Douglas-Home to consult with the United States prior to the Iranians if the sheikhs’ reaction to the plan should be negative, so that Washington itself could approach the disputing parties if need be. (Ibid.) In telegram 175137 to Dhahran, London, Jidda, Kuwait, and Tehran, September 21, the Department transmitted Douglas-Home’s reply, in which he said that “Increasingly he [the Shah] may have anxieties about having his bluff called since he cannot want to use force if he can avoid it, thus jeopardising his relations both with the Gulf States and the whole Arab world… He is, of course, as we all know, a very accomplished brinkman.” (Ibid.)
  2. Rogers encouraged Douglas-Home to urge the sheikhs to accept the tentative islands agreement, which represented the maximum that the Shah could offer.