92. Telegram From the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State (Oxman) to the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Tarnoff)1

0553. For Tarnoff only from Oxman. Subject: Meeting With Shah, Dec 9, 1979. (S)

1. (S) I just met with the Shah for 45 minutes and told him the result of country number 1.2 He had not heard from Bill Jackson (and was quite perturbed that he had not) and therefore I was breaking the news to him. It appeared to be quite a blow to him. I stated the great lengths to which we had gone to persuade the leader of country number 1. Citing Hal’s special trip, the fact that Jackson accompied him to that country, and the over-arching high-level phone contact.

2. (S) I said that President Carter remained fully committed to the proposition that it is essential to find an alternative country for the Shah. I said we will continue to press at the highest levels and will continue to need Shah’s assistance in these efforts.

3. (S) The Shah was or purported to be incredulous at the position taken by the leader of country number 1. I said that that leader had, from the first, feared for his standing in the Arab world and particularly among the Palestinians, if he should accept the Shah. I said he had sought the views of Arafat, among others, who had confirmed his initial fears. “First Lopez-Portillo and then the leader of country number 1,” the Shah said. He claimed that this caving in to pressure meant that the regime in Tehran was actually gaining something with its outrageous tactics. “Where will this stop”? he asked.

4. (S) I said there are other possibilities and that it is essential to focus on them. I said we would know more about country number 23 by mid-week and that setting it aside for the moment, it was important to focus on possibilities in this hemisphere. He said, “like what?” I mentioned country number 3,4 our new country number 5,5 and the Bahamas. I also probed whether he had considered approaching Lopez-Portillo about extending his visa on a temporary basis. He said the [Page 241] latter was beneath his dignity and again expressed amazement, bitterness, and sorrow at Lopez-Portillo’s turn around. He was contemptuous of the Bahamas. He was negative on number 3 and 5 as well as on country number 2—in part on the grounds that these are places where “people go to hide”. I said there are no ideal solutions in a situation like this and pointed out the important distinctions between number 3 and number 5. He listened carefully to this and seemed uninformed about number 5. When we come to making the strong pitch on number 5, I could make effective use of some talking points from the Department, explaining the character of that regime, its standing in the hemisphere and in the Third World, and its relationship with the United States.

5. (S) The Shah raised the question of Switzerland but seemed to feel it is a non-starter.

6. (S) The Shah was very indignant at a comment which he said Andrew Young had just made to the effect that the Shah should go to country number 2 where he could “join his fellow fascists and racists.” Without commenting on this alleged remark, I said it was important not to rule out country number 2, even if it is the Shah’s last choice.

7. (S) The Shah’s wife had raised Canada with me this afternoon in a conversation reported septel,6 and I explained to the Shah that it would not be possible. He said the Canadians will do what the British do. He expressed interest in Australia and New Zealand, but dismissed them on the grounds that they too would simply follow the British. If either of these is a possibility, please advise.

8. (S) The Shah brought up the question of an international commission “to try me and America”. He expressed his contempt for it, he said that if it goes ahead, he would have to defend himself. He said the regime in Iran would presumably present documents covering the 37 year period of his reign and that in defense he would have to call witnesses, even including perhaps former Presidents of the United States. I said that whatever may eventuate with respect to an airing of charges, there was no relationship between this and finding another country in which he can reside. He agreed with this. I assume he was trying implicitly to point out the possible risks to us in the international commission approach. I expect him to raise this again and request [Page 242] guidance on how you would like me to respond to his comments in this area.

9. (S) The Shah appeared very despondent when I left. He said, “I guess we can wait a few more days to see what happens.” I said that while the news about country number 1 is disappointing, it was only one of a number of possibilities and that we must press ahead on the remaining ones.

  1. Source: Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Briefing Book: The Shah December 1979, Vol. IV. Secret.
  2. Austria.
  3. South Africa.
  4. Country number 3 not identifiable.
  5. Panama.
  6. As reported in a telegram from Oxman at Lackland AFB, December 10, 0015Z. (Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Briefing Book: The Shah December 1979, Vol. IV)