890F.51/30: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)

453. Your 1260, August 30, 4 p.m. The decision not to grant a credit to Saudi Arabia was based on the actual merits of the case and notwithstanding the hope expressed by the British that such a credit would be made by this Government. It was the considered view of the President that financial assistance to Saudi Arabia would take us too far afield and that the British have more reason than ourselves to look after its financial needs.

The reply suggested by the Legation would not give the real reason underlying the decision and would therefore be lacking in frankness. Moreover, it does not seem convincing. The Saudi Arabians would perhaps feel, with some reason, that we could place the matter inside our framework of legislation or policy if we felt it necessary or strongly desired to do so. The Legation’s suggested reply is brief and might be considered curt, particularly by Arabs.

It would be undesirable to convey an impression that a subsequent request for financial assistance, in existing circumstances, would result more favorably than the present request.

There is no objection to the Legation’s final formula relating to the possibility of other requests not along strictly financial lines, but it [Page 649] appears to be somewhat more restrictive than the one proposed by the Department.

We doubt whether an interpretation such as mentioned in your numbered paragraph 1 is justified by the language used in the first two paragraphs of our draft, which is intended to be a polite statement of the decision and of the reasons underlying it and means exactly and no more than what it says.

As regards paragraph 3 of our draft, Saudi Arabia certainly cannot be criticized for not fighting so long as it is unattacked. On the other hand, the Saudi Arabians should not find it difficult to realize that our aid must be concentrated upon those countries which have been attacked and are actually fighting, and upon non-belligerents which are geographically important to us for reasons of national defense. The fact that Saudi Arabia is of more political and strategic importance to the British Empire than to this country has long been understood by the Saudi Arabians, and was perhaps the main consideration in the granting of oil concessions to an American company.

You are authorized to draft and forward what you consider a suitable reply to the Saudi Arabian Government, but, in the formulation of the response, consideration should be given to the foregoing remarks which are advisory in character and are transmitted in the thought that they may prove helpful. Telegraph text of reply when made.