142. Telegram From the United States Interests Section in Baghdad to the Department of State1

1651. Subject: Meeting With Iraqi Officials: U.S. Emissary to Iraq.

1. (S-entire text).

2. June 25 DCM Jones and I were invited to lunch by ex-Chief of IraqInt in Washington, Fadhil Azzawi, and Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Ministry, Nabil Najim. Such a social-business meeting on Iraq initiative would be rare event for any diplomatic mission in Baghdad. For this useful opportunity to cement relations with the Protocol Chief and continue U.S.-Iraqi dialogue we must thank Azzawi, and Under Secretary Newsom’s hospitality to him before his departure from Washington.

2. The two-hour meeting covered a wide range of subjects (septels).2 Of particular interest was Azzawi’s handling of the question raised in Washington earlier this year whether Iraq would be ready to hold discussions in Baghdad or elsewhere with a senior State Department representative on U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relations and regional issues.3 Azzawi noted that he had asked DAS Draper to try to ascertain whom we might have in mind “to head a delegation to Baghdad”. He seemed to think that the delay in our response might be significant and related to a “new policy” toward Iraq initiated by Secretary Muskie. He said “the ball is now in your court” and asked what we knew about the “new U.S. policy” towards Iraq.

4. I replied that his query regarding the person we might send to Baghdad had coincided with Secretary Vance’s departure and Secretary Muskie’s arrival. Our original proposal was based on our belief that higher level contact and an enlarged dialogue would be beneficial to both countries. A number of developments in Iraq, including a tendency [Page 450]toward moderation on regional issues, had been well received in Washington. I was not aware of any “new policy” under Secretary Muskie and believed that the U.S. Government was still interested in exploring ways to improve U.S.-Iraqi relations. The delay in our reply was normal in view of personnel changes in the Department.

5. When I asked Azzawi whom he might have in mind as an appropriate person and level for a visit to Baghdad (which I noted would probably be one or two officials rather than a delegation) he suggested Under Secretary Newsom or possibly Deputy Assistant Secretary Draper “since both of them know Iraq and how to deal with Iraqis”. He added that Assistant Secretary Saunders would also be an appropriate person.

6. Protocol Chief Najim had apparently not been briefed on the subject, and Azzawi filled him in as he went along. Furthermore, although Azzawi is obviously interested in arranging a visit to Baghdad by an American official, he left us with the impression that a further decision-making stage would be required within the Iraqi Government after they receive our reply to their query. Thus, the timing for such a visit might slip, certainly until after the July 17 National Day and then perhaps through the mid-summer doldrums. Nevertheless, I believe we should now follow-up on our initiative by indicating who might visit Baghdad. We could suggest several possibilities which would permit the Iraqis to indicate which level they preferred and leave the time open for a mutually agreeable date. Azzawi indicated that a response to his query could be transmitted through IraqInt Washington, USINT Baghdad or both.

Eagleton
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800308–0401. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. In telegram 1663 from Baghdad, June 26, Eagleton reported that during the June lunch with Azzawi and Najim, “the subject of U.S.-Iraqi relations was played back and forth from a number of angles. We did not waste time discussing resumption of diplomatic relations, which is not being considered here at least until after U.S. Presidential elections and a look then at our position on the Palestine issue. Azzawi did at one point say that relations would have been restored months ago had it not been for the Camp David agreement. We are not so sure.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800308–0650) In telegram 1662 from Baghdad, June 26, Eagleton added that, following discussion of bilateral issues, “the subject turned to Afghanistan, the Gulf and U.S. presence in the area.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800309–0001)
  3. See Documents 132 and 133.