76. Telegram 113772 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey1 2


  • CENTO Ministerial Meeting


  • State 110376

Begin summary: discussion at CENTO Council of Ministers meeting in Washington May 21–22 concentrated to large extent on India’s nuclear explosion and Pakistani indictment of ineffectiveness of CENTO. While Pakistanis pressed hard for strongly critcal communique statement on Indian nuclear explosion, all other delegations were firm in their refusal to offer quick judgement on implications of the event. And, although Aziz Ahmed expressed scorn for CENTO, he did not hint or suggest Paks would withdraw. End summary

1. CENTO Council of Ministers met in twenty-first session May 21–22 in Washington. US delegation was headed by Acting Secretary Rush. Iranian, Pakistani and UK delegations led by FonMin Khalatbary, MinState Aziz Ahmed and FonSec Callaghan. Turkish Ambassador in Washington, Esenbel, headed his delegation in absence of FonMin Gunes, who cancelled his participation because of parlimentary situation in Ankara.

2. Review of international situation

Principal points of interest which emerged during restricted session devoted to reviewing international situation were reported in reftel. An additional item relates to Iranian position on Soviet Asian collective security proposal. During course of discussion Aziz Ahmed stated Iran had agreed with proposal in principle and had also agreed to help implement it. Khalatbary made very specific rebuttal. He emphasized that Iran had only agreed to study the idea and on the understanding the PRC would be [Page 2] included in the system.

3. Political guidance for military planning

Agreement had been reached prior to Ministerial on CENTO paper-assessment of situation in the area. However, discussions in Ankara had revealed rather fundamental divergence of views on political guidance. Our objective at Ministerial was to avoid having this unresolved issue come before Ministers. While it proved possible to get steering committee to recommend paper to Council of Deputies, this did not prevent Aziz Ahmed from launching into a rather bitter criticism of CENTO and its failure to protect Pakistan against India (see reftel). Iran and Turkey, as well as UK and US, reiterated importance of CENTO but avoided getting into debate with Aziz Ahmed on either political guidance or CENTO itself.

4. Council approve proposals for enhancing CENTO activities in economic, military and counter-subversion fields. Secretary General made several suggestions: Greater degree of political consultation among CENTO members; increase in exchange of high level visits; more contact and cooperation on with NATO; expansion of public relations and cultural programs. Ministers did not respond to each point, but none questioned any of Assar’s suggestions, and he obtained tacit approval to move ahead with more specific proposals.

5. Council also decided during review of Economic Committee report to accelerate planning for high level meeting to discuss matters of common interest. Terms of reference for meeting will be worked out by Economic Steering Group and Council of Deputies before end of CY 74. US offered to host first such meeting.

6. Iran and UK reps confirmed their intention to support regional railway, road and microwave projects. Turkish rep failed to respond to Iranian’s comment that bypass around Lake Van Rail ferry is required. He indicated continued reluctance concerning proposal which was apparent during economic committee meeting in April.

7. During consideration of military committee report [Page 3] US rep noted that conferences intended to resolve issues regarding a common crytographic system and an air defense system will be held in June and July.

8. Approval of counter-subversion and liaison committee reports was routine. Iranian rep made lengthy statement on Iraq as base for subversion against Iran and Gulf states. US and UK reps confirmed plans to sponsor anti terrorism-training for nationals of regional members.

9. Turks agreed to nominate replacement Secretary General Assar whose term ends early in 1975, and to host next meeting of Council in Ankara next May.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, New Delhi Embassy Files: Lot 78 F 45, DEF 4, Collective Defense Pacts & Alliances 1974. Confidential. It was drafted by NEA and repeated to Islamabad, London, Tehran, New Delhi, and Moscow.
  2. At the CENTO ministerial meeting in Washington, the alliance members discussed the consequences of the Indian nuclear explosion. Pakistan pressed for a strongly worded statement of disapproval and once again “expressed scorn” for CENTO. The ministers also debated the subject of political guidance and approved measures to increase the amount of economic aid given by the United States and United Kingdom to the regional members.