22. Telegram 4054 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2


  • Shah Visit—Meeting With Top Officials


  • State 116791, USUN 3287
Emb has following comments and suggestions regarding political and economic aspects of substantive talks Shah will be having with President, Secretary, and other top US officials. We will comment on military aspects after Gen. Twitchell’s audience with Shah requested for Oct 9.
Shah will be seeking to gain and update understanding of leading members new administration for his view of Iran’s position in Middle East. He will probably play older themes of Iran’s progress and development, political stability, and positive contribution to region and US interest but against background more recent developments. In particular, his general concern over radical Arabs and expanding Soviet presence in Mediterranean, Indian Ocean areas, has been intensified by what he sees as Soviet exploitation of deteriorating situations in Iraq and Syria (State 1167911) which he feels carries danger of those countries being joined under Communist direction. Also his chronic worry over instability and vulnerability Gulf Arab states to radical forces following British withdrawal has been further animated by series arrests in Saudi Arabia and his fear that even this stablest of Gulf states may be declining. With some justification he sees Iran as only stabilizing military force in region (he has [Page 2]just given renewed emphasis in two public speeches to his determination do all necessary for own and area defense). He will probably point out how Iran’s assumption of regional security responsibilities fits current US policy as enunciated during President’s Asian tour.
He will be pleased to hear President and Secretary give US views on broad international situation, including US-Soviet relations and arms limitation talks, Soviet-ChiCom relations, Arab-Israeli negotiations. Some exposition of US domestic situation as it impinges on our foreign relations would also seem useful as this is area Shah does not always give due attention.
Middle East. Discussion our efforts to move forward Arab-Israeli settlement would be appropriate occasion to express appreciation Shah’s useful moderating role at Rabat Summit. In view his deep and recently expressed bitterness towards Lebanese Government (underlined by his apparent refusal receive Lebanese reps at Islamic summit) we doubt advisability any further suggestions at this time for renewal Iranian Lebanese ties. On other hand, it would seem distinctly desirable remind Shah we share with him deep common concern over future of moderate, free world-inclined Arab governments, and that we earnestly desire keep under review means by which these states may be strengthened. Hopefully clear reiteration in atmosphere of Washington our interest in stability of moderate Arab regimes, including Lebanon, might make his concerns with Bakhtiar seem less compelling than they do in Iran. We should not let Shah off hook of acting like ME statesman he claims to be.
Persian Gulf. Shah will probably assure us he is prepared to accept any formula UN able to work out with British on eliciting political will Bahreini populace concerning future status. Our commendation this approach would encourage him to continue on this course. We doubt very much he will comment like Zahedi (USUN 3257) regarding Iran’s expectation of receiving Tunbs and Abu Musa in return for relinquishing Bahrein claim. However, if subject those islands touched upon, we might usefully avoid any intimation that we are wedded to status quo.
COMIDEASTFOR. Washington visit may provide opportunity make progress in resolving differences between Shah’s views and ours on future stationing of COMIDEASTFOR in Gulf (Bahrein). Shah has already said in Hanson Baldwin and all friendly interviews that he would prefer us not have naval force based in Gulf. Reiteration this line through more dramatic medium of planned TV interview (Meet the Press) might strike significant adverse note with US public and some Congressmen, besides further committing Shah to this unhelpful position. However, heading him off this line, which stems inevitably from his present independent, nationalist caste of mind, will be delicate matter. Perhaps Secretary might find opportunity reaffirm to [Page 4]Shah our conviction future stability and security of gulf depends first and foremost on cooperative efforts between riparian powers. Indeed we hopeful latter will succeed in evolving stable new system assuring security and progress of all Gulf states. Nevertheless US and rest of world have important interest in seeing that an area containing such great resources does not slip, as others have in post-colonial eras, into state of uncertainty and chaos. While riparians must play dominant role, others can perhaps be helpful also. Accordingly we believe wise not foreclose options with regard future usefulness of facilities now existing in Gulf. If Shah shows inclination pursue matter further, he, might be reminded gently there is always possibility Soviets can find some means, perhaps in collaboration with Iraqis, establish more or less permanent naval presence in Gulf. While we would not suggest point be argued still Secretary might find opportunity note that once we had withdrawn naval force from region, its reintroduction would be difficult and operation of over-the-horizon presence (which Shah has mentioned) impractical. Perhaps best course would be simply endeavor convince Shah that on this question our views are flexible and we hope his can remain that way also.
Oil. Shah is in dead earnest in his quest for additional oil revenues and Iran’s current tight foreign exchange situation has added urgency to problem. (Shah’s approach on oil problems may be influenced by results NIOC/consortium talks in London beginning October 6 and concluded prior his arrival US.) While aware of US oil policy concerning operations and negotiations of international companies and oil imports, he will hope for indications that we will nudge oil companies to take his regional responsibilities as well as commercial considerations into account in their negotiations and that we will be sympathetic regarding any barter deals for military equipment that he may be able to work out within current import quota system. But he will probably be especially interested in future prospects. He knows, of course, that government’s domestic and import oil policies are now under review and he will be acutely interested in future outlook as it affects Iran. He will especially appreciate obtaining fullest feasible exposition of oil import prospects and it will be worth careful coordination [Page 5]to avoid leaving any impression of discrepancies in viewpoints of different officials.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 IRAN. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Jidda.
  2. The Chargé offered suggestions for the Shah’s upcoming U.S. visit, including positions on Iran’s role, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, COMIDEASTFOR, and oil.