890F.515/1⅔

Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Mr. Welles: In reply to your memorandum of September 26 to Mr. Murray, who is on leave, I may say that by a memorandum of August 6 from Mr. Jesse Jones to the Secretary, we were informed of the President’s disinclination to afford financial assistance to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Jones’ memorandum is attached,33a and you may wish to read the President’s brief communication on the subject to Mr. Jones which is quoted on page two thereof.

It is not clear from Mr. Jones’ memorandum whether the President was informed of the fact that we received a formal request for financial assistance from the Saudi Arabian Government, as distinct from the suggestions of the oil companies and the British. The record shows that this fact was communicated to Mr. Jones by Mr. Berle on July 3.

It would appear, in any case, that if the matter is reopened it will be necessary to take it up with the President.

The Legation at Cairo has been informed of the adverse decision in the matter and recently communicated it to the Saudi Arabians.

You will doubtless recall that on September 26 we sent a telegraphic instruction to Cairo34 designed to lessen King Ibn Saud’s disappointment and to overcome any feeling he may have that we are abandoning him completely, by informing him, when Minister Kirk visits Jidda, that we would be glad to look into the possibility of sending the King an agricultural mission35 should the idea of such a mission be agreeable to him. In view of Ibn Saud’s known anxiety to settle his nomads on the land and to discover and develop the water and agricultural resources of Saudi Arabia, we have every reason to believe that a mission of suitable government experts would please him highly.

We feel strongly that to produce the best results, such a mission should be offered to Ibn Saud without any “ifs” and “buts”. However, a request for the money would apparently have to be made through the Bureau of the Budget, from the President’s Emergency [Page 651]Fund. We can, of course, present a stronger case if Ibn Saud’s wishes in the matter are first ascertained.

In view of Ibn Saud’s importance and influence in the critical Middle Eastern area, it would be most regrettable if we should let him down completely. The cost of the official mission contemplated would be moderate and would assist him in a field in which our experts are particularly well qualified and in which British assistance, even if available, would probably be inacceptable to Ibn Saud.

Paul H. Alling
  1. Ante, p. 642.
  2. Telegram No. 507, p. 658.
  3. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 651 ff.