148. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to Vice President Agnew1 2
- Your Visit to Iran
Your visit to Iran is essentially an expression of our respect and friendship for the Shah. The 25th Centenary Celebrations are a symbolic assertion that Iran, under the leadership of the Shah, is assuming the full promise of its ancient heritage. Your participation in these events is intended to identify the United States with these accomplishments and the Shah’s leadership.
Most of your time will be spent participating in the various ceremonial functions that have been planned. There probably will be little opportunity for substantive discussions with other heads of delegations.
Meeting with the Shah
Since you will have only 10 to 15 minutes privately with the Shah, you will want to limit, if possible, the number and type of substantive topics.
This is the subject at the top of our priority list. The Shah has been a generally moderating influence on President Yahya of Pakistan during the present South Asian crisis. He apparently is personally close to Yahya and we would like to encourage the Shah to continue this effort. Yahya will also be in Iran for the celebrations. It would be desirable for you to impress on the Shah that:
- —We are deeply concerned that India and Pakistan could be approaching the brink of war.
- —We hope that the Shah, in every appropriate way, will continue to
counsel restraint recognizing that we have been making a maximum
effort to help Yahya work his way through [Page 2] his difficulties in the
face of continuing Indian trouble-making. We have:
- succeeded in getting a Consortium Agreement for a debt rescheduling program
- provided massive assistance to avert famine in East Pakistan;
- at some cost, avoided open criticism of Pakistan while urging maximum restraint in India.
- —Ambassador MacArthur has informed him that we are calling on both Yahya and Mrs. Gandhi to withdraw their military forces from the immediate border areas and cautioning them both about cross-border operations that could provide the spark for a wider conflict. We would appreciate anything that the Shah might also be able to do along these lines.
Iran has taken the position that it cannot vote for the continued seating of the Republic of China in the UN though it would not object to separate membership for “the Republic of Formosa.” The Iranians have also said that they will abstain on our Important Question Resolution and will vote for the Albanian Resolution and against our Dual Representation Resolution. It would be helpful if you could:
—Tell the Shah that even if we cannot agree on the substance of the Chinese Representation issue, we cannot understand why Iran should oppose us on the procedural aspects. Specifically, we believe Iran should be able to vote with us to give the Important Question resolution priority over the Albanian Resolution, to vote with us on the Important Question resolution, and to at least abstain the Dual Representation vote.
The British and the Iranians are engaged in a series of new talks over the three islands in the mouth of the Gulf which the Iranians are threatening to seize if they are not turned over to them by the end of the year when the British withdraw. We are still staying on the sidelines of the issue and avoiding direct involvement. You might say:[Page 3]
- —We are convinced that the British are making a genuine effort to resolve the islands problem and hope that the Shah will work with them to resolve the issue peacefully.
- —Iranian seizure of the islands could have a destabilizing effect on the Gulf and prevent cooperation between Iran and its Arab neighbors.
The Shah has indicated that he will ask you about Iran acquiring aerial tankers to refuel his F–4s. This request has been before us for some time but the bureaucracy has been unable to come up with an agreed position. The main issue is that the selling of such aircraft to Iran might set a precedent that could provide problems with other countries. This whole question is currently under active study by Defense and State. There is, not much to say other than:
- —You can assure him that question is under active study.
- —We appreciate Iran’s desire to be capable of defending itself and intend to continue to help this effort through the provision of credit, training and military advisory service.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1268, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations, Iran 6/1/71–12/31/71. Secret.↩
- Kissinger advised Agnew on how to discuss South Asia, Taiwanese representation in the United Nations, and the Gulf islands dispute during his attendance at the 25th Centenary Celebrations in Iran.↩