Nixon first met the Shah, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, when traveling as Vice President in 1953. Nixon recalls his first impression in his memoirs: “I sensed an inner strength in him, and I felt that in the years ahead he would become a strong leader.” The Shah came to power in 1941 and led reforms in his country known as the White Revolution that created economic growth and moved towards modernization.
The visit in May of 1972 was strategically important to reinforce Iran’s primacy in maintaining regional stability and project Western influence in the region. This was the first time in thirteen years that a U.S President visited Iran and the timing was important in the context of the Cold War. Iran had a growing economy and a strengthening military and the Persian Gulf region was in a relatively peaceful period. The result was a partnership between the United States and Iran to help contain the Soviet Union.
Nixon aide, Dwight Chapin recalls the visit in his recently published memoir, The President’s Man:
The Nixon Foundation hosted a special event to commemorate the 50th anniversary you can view here: