“Most Disappointed”

President Truman Reads Iran Statement To Press

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | November 25, 2021                    

U.S. President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)

Excerpts from a press conference held by President Harry S. Truman, shortly after his special envoy, Averell Harriman, returned from Iran.

Harry Truman letters, speeches, etc.

¶ The President’s News Conference of August 23, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I have a statement or two here for you, which I think may clear up some questions you might be inclined to ask, so I will read them to you.

Q. Would you mind— [Ernest B. Vaccaro, Associated Press, aka Tony]

THE PRESIDENT. They will be in mimeographed form outside, Tony, and yes, I’ll go slow. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT [Reading]. “General Ridway has reported to me, and has made public, the story of last night’s episode in Kaesong. There is, of course, no truth in the Communist claim that a United Nations plane had bombed the Kaesong area. No United Nations aircraft were even in the vicinity at the time the alleged bombing took place. Whether any enemy aircraft were present is not clear, but the flimsy nature of the so-called evidence shown to the United Nations liaison officers makes it extremely doubtful that any bombing took place at all.

We do not know the purpose of this new Communist masquerade in Kaesong. The Communist liaison officer last night made certain statements about calling off further meetings in the armistice negotiations, but it is not clear whether he was referring to the meetings planned for today, to meetings for the next several days—or whether it is the Communist intention to back out of the armistice negotiations altogether.

Until this is clarified, we cannot appraise the events of last night—except that they obviously were not calculated to move the negotiations forward toward an armistice.”

[2.] Now, the next one is on Iran.

[Reading] “I have been most disappointed to learn of the suspension of the negotiations in Tehran between the British delegation and the Iranian Government, which we had hoped would lead to a settlement of the Iranian oil question.

Since these conversations have been suspended rather than completely broken off, it remains my hope that a solution will eventually be found agreeable to both parties. It has been clear during the course of negotiations that both Iran and Great Britain sincerely desire a settlement, and in view of this fact I am confident that an arrangement can ultimately be worked out.

Mr. Harriman has worked long and tirelessly in an effort to bring the parties together, and to set the stage for a settlement, and his activities have had my complete support. [Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President] His letter to Prime Minister Mossadegh of August 21 summarizes very clearly the American point of view on the steps which led to the suspension of the conversations and the views that Mr. Harriman put forward reflect my own and the State Department’s.”

[Later published in the Sept. 3rd State Department Bulletin under the header "Great Britain and Iran Suspend Oil Negotiations".]

[7.] Q. Mr. President, will Mr. Harriman stay in Tehran, or will he now return?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Harriman is coming home.

Q. Immediately?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. He will be home in about a week.

Q. Mr. President—

[11.] Q. Is there any plan to send Mr. Harriman back to Iran or—

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we hope that the negotiations will be resumed. If they want the services of Mr. Harriman, undoubtedly he would be able to go.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, there are some rumors that Mr. Harriman might go to Egypt for some negotiations there. Is there anything you can say about them?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven’t heard about that. He seems to be in great demand now. [Laughter] Very capable person.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. That’s all right.

NOTE: President Truman’s two hundred and seventy-sixth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 23, 1951.

• Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1951

Press Release, Statement by President Harry S. Truman, August 23, 1951

• Statement by the President, August 23, 1951

Truman and Mossadegh’s First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)
President Truman and Premier Mossadegh's First Messages on Iran Oil Dispute (1951)

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Related links:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower Press Conference — August 11, 1954

Harriman’s Mission — PEACE PIPE OR SMOKE SCREEN? | Ernest K. Lindley, July 15, 1951

Eisenhower and the Shah Trade Compliments After Iran Oil Deal (August 1954)

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