Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

Participants: Mr. K. S. Twitchell, Consultant, American Smelting and Refining Company
Mr. Alling
Mr. Merriam

Mr. Twitchell called to discuss the Department’s letter to him of September 11, 1941.43 He expressed his disappointment that it had been decided not to grant financial aid to the Saudi Arabian Government and his opinion that it would have been wise to have done so. He intimated that he hoped it was yet possible to take favorable action. It was explained to him, however, that the decision had been taken by the President, and that full opportunity had been given to all those interested to express their views. As matters stood, there appeared to be nothing more that could be done as to that particular matter.

Mr. Twitchell conceded that this was the case, and then reverted to his proposal that a mission of experts be sent to Saudi Arabia. He was told that it would be difficult for us to press this matter actively in view of the President’s decision and the view of the Legation at Cairo that there seemed to be no use in pursuing it because Ibn Saud would probably not be interested. It was explained that we could not lead Ibn Saud to have any definite hopes or expectations regarding the project, because in the end an adverse decision might be taken similar to that reached on the question of financial assistance. Moreover, the Legation’s view had to be taken into account.

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It was suggested to Mr. Twitchell that he again call at the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to ascertain whether some of their experts could still be made available for such a mission. If so, we would telegraph to the Legation at Cairo a suggestion that when the Minister made his visit to Saudi Arabia he ascertain whether the Saudi Arabian Government would welcome a mission provided we should find it possible to send one. If so, and particularly if the Minister should recommend that one be sent, we would have a good basis on which to go to work.

Mr. Twitchell gave it as his opinion that the mission would be most welcome to Ibn Saud, and that it would be a fine and much appreciated gesture if one could be offered to him forthwith. He emphasized the great difference between merely offering to help find engineers, all of whose expenses would have to be met by the King, and an offer of Government experts whose services would be a free gift, except to a minor extent.

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