811.248/720

The Officer in Chargé at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

No. 26

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 373 of June 15, 1942, 5 p.m.,1 in which I repeated a telegram sent to the Legation at Cairo on June 9, 1942, reporting that the Secretary to the Government of India in the External Affairs Department had suggested informally the advisability of the Government of the United States making diplomatic arrangements with the Sultan of Muscat for facilities to be availed of in Muscat by the American Ferry Command. It was reported that, according to the Secretary, the Sultan, who had in the past been aloof and easily offended in his dealings with the British, was being cooperative and that for that reason … any American personnel sent there should be carefully chosen. This was particularly true with respect to Salalah where the Sultan was in summer residence, a retreat where he had in the past often sought refuge from the British.

In my telegram No. 379 of July [June] 16, 1942, 9 p.m.,1 I reported further information received from the Secretary to the effect that the Sultan was concerned with the unheralded arrival at Salalah of four employees of the Pan American Airways who stated they had come to make the necessary arrangements for ground facilities. A copy of a self-explanatory aide-mémoire on the subject of June 13, 1942, handed me by the Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Department is enclosed.

In compliance with the instructions contained in the Department’s telegram No. 321 of July 3, 1942,1 I asked the Secretary whether the Government of India would be willing to instruct the British Representative in Muscat to approach the Sultan in this connection on behalf of the American Government. After several days I received an affirmative answer and addressed a note to the Secretary on July 8, 1942, expressing the desire of obtaining the Sultan’s approval of facilities for the United States Army similar to those already accorded [Page 532]to the British, including the use of airfields in Muscat by planes under the jurisdiction of the United States Army and the landing of personnel, both military and civil, required to service the planes, to establish and operate radio and weather stations. A copy of this note is enclosed.

As reported in my telegram No. 514 of July 25, 1942, 1 p.m.,2 there was some delay on the part of the Government of India in forwarding the instructions to the British Representative in Muscat due to the necessity of consulting with the British military authorities in Cairo regarding the radio and weather reporting facilities requested. Difficulty was also experienced in obtaining air transportation for the British Political Agent from Muscat to Salalah. Ordinarily only a very junior assistant political agent is kept at Salalah.

However, I have now received a note dated August 21, 1942, from the Joint Secretary describing the results of the Political Agent’s discussions and correspondence with His Highness the Sultan, and giving the Joint Secretary’s helpful comments and offer of assistance. A copy of this communication is transmitted herewith. As the Department will note, His Highness has agreed to the facilities requested but has made five conditions upon which their granting is contingent. The Joint Secretary believes these conditions are usual and reasonable and states that the British Political Agent and Assistant Political Agent would, if the Department so desires, be responsible for the conduct of American personnel as they are for that of Royal Air Force.

It is respectfully requested that Department instruct me by telegraph as to whether the Sultan’s conditions are acceptable. Meanwhile it is understood that there will be no difficulty in obtaining the necessary facilities in Muscat on a provisional basis.

Respectfully yours,

George R. Merrell
[Enclosure 1]

The Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the External Affairs Department (Weightman) to the American Officer in Chargé at New Delhi (Merrell)

Aide-Mémoire

On the 6th of June 1942 Mr. Merrell was informed that the Government of India had received intimation that the U. S. Ferry Command intended to establish staging parties at aerodromes in Muscat territory on the Southern Arabian air route, i. e. at Salalah, Ras-al-Hadd, [Page 533]and possibly Masirah. Mention was made of the treaty relations that exist between the U. S. Government and the Sultan of Muscat3 and it was suggested that it would be well to arrange that before U. S. base troops were sent to aerodromes in Muscat territory the U. S. Government should seek His Highness the Sultan’s formal consent. It was explained that so far as the British Government was concerned the prior consent of His Highness the Sultan was obtained to the construction of aerodromes, the operation of aircraft from them and the location of ground personnel to maintain and protect them. It is understood that Mr. Merrell has addressed the State Department accordingly.

2.
Information has now been received from Salalah that four Pan American Airways personnel have arrived there stating that they have come to establish a staging post for a P. A. A. service between Khartoum and Karachi, that more of their men are expected within a few days with wireless equipment, that they expect to carry private passengers if bookings of Government priority passages permit this, and that they wish to negotiate with the Sultan of Muscat for a camping site, local labour and supply of provisions.
3.
The report suggest that the Sultan of Muscat is concerned at the unheralded arrival of this personnel and at the moment insists that the men should “undertake to be associated with the Royal Air Force and to be bound by his rules for the Royal Air Force”.
4.
The statement made by the Pan American Airways personnel at Salalah in regard to the intention of the Company to carry private passengers if bookings of Government priority passages permit is at variance with the assurance given by Colonel Louis Johnson4 at the meeting held in the External Affairs Department on the 27th April, 1942 to the effect that P. A. A. come under complete military ownership and control and that its operations are determined absolutely by the War Department, and that nothing now done will have or is intended to have any effect in establishing commercial rights.
[File copy not signed]
Joint Secretary to the Government of India
[Page 534]
[Enclosure 2]

The American Officer in Chargé at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the External Affairs Department (Weightman)

No. 20

Sir: I have the honor to refer to conversations held recently at the Foreign Office regarding the use by planes and personnel under the jurisdiction of the United States Army of airfields at Salalah, Ras-al-Hadd and Masirah, Muscat, and to the Joint Secretary’s aide-mémoire on this subject of June 6 [13], 1942.

I have the further honor to inform you that I have now been directed by my Government to request the Government of India to be good enough to instruct the British Representative in Muscat to approach His Highness the Sultan of Muscat in this matter on behalf of the Government of the United States. The desire of my Government would be to obtain His Highness’ approval of facilities for the United States Army similar to those already accorded to the British, including the use of airfields in Muscat by planes under the jurisdiction of the United States Army and the landing of the minimum personnel, both military and civil, required to service the planes, to establish and operate weather and radio stations.

The information relative to the new service as obtained from the American War Department which follows is submitted in order that it may be utilized in forwarding instructions to the Representative of Great Britain:

Brigadier General S. W. Fitzgerald, United States Army, has been designated to take command of ferry operations in the Middle East and Africa and will have under his supervision and direct control the operations of the Pan American Airways in these areas. The proposed service is considered highly desirable in connection with the transportation of essential military cargo to Karachi, the ferrying of transport planes and the return of ferry pilots.

According to a contractual arrangement with the American War Department, the Pan American Airways will operate flights from Khartoum to Karachi transporting war material and military personnel. In cases where space is available, however, after the essential military requirements have been met, it is desired that the planes be allowed to carry any non official passengers whose travel has been designated as urgently necessary by United States representatives in the region.

[Page 535]

In taking up this matter with the Government of India, I am instructed to lay particular emphasis on the importance of this new service to India’s defense.

I have [etc.]

George R. Merrell
[Enclosure 3]

The Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the External Affairs Department (Weightman) to the American Officer in Chargé at New Delhi (Merrell)

No. 7195–X/42

Sir: I am directed to refer to your letter No. 20 dated the 8th July, 1942, in regard to the matter of facilities required for the United States Army Air Force in the territories of His Highness the Sultan of Muscat similar to those accorded to the R. A. F. A report has now been received from His Britannic Majesty’s Political Agent in Muscat regarding the result of his discussions and correspondence with His Highness the Sultan and I am to state the position achieved for your information.

2. His Highness the Sultan has agreed to grant to the Government of the United States for the United States Army Airforce facilities similar to those already accorded to the British Government, including specifically the use of aerodromes in Muscat territory by aircraft under the jurisdiction of the United States Army, permission to erect buildings at Salalah, Masirah and Ras-al-Hadd (including Khor Jarama) and to station formations of aircraft at those places. Permission is also accorded to the landing of minimum personnel required to service these aircraft and to the establishment and operation of weather and radio stations, should it be necessary for the United States Army Airforce to duplicate such services already established and operated by the E. A. F. The concessions accorded by His Highness include further the exemption from customs duty of petrol and lubricants for United States of America Army Airforce aircraft and of provisions, stores and fittings imported into Muscat territory for the operation of those aircraft.

3. The Sultan has however made the grant of these facilities subject to certain conditions, which can best be stated in his own words. The five conditions which he wishes to impose are:—

(1)
“Provided that it is made clear to us as on whom responsibility will rest and who will reply to any question that may arise regarding the conduct of American personnel, etc.
(2)
The grant of sales in recognition of grant of these facilities of
(a)
200 rifles and 200,000 rounds of ammunition,
(b)
2 machine guns with spare parts and sufficient ammunition,
(c)
4 hand machine guns with spare parts and sufficient ammunition,
(d)
Two motor lorries of medium size which are used by military men,
(e)
Such medical supplies as may be considered reasonable by our friend the British Government.
(3)
An undertaking that compensation will be paid for any damage caused by American personnel or aircraft to our property or the persons or property of our subjects.
(4)
An undertaking that American personnel will accept and abide by all our local rules as they are or may be made for their behaviour particularly those regarding the posting of guards for their camp and personnel.
(5)
An undertaking that guards of American Camp and personnel supplied by us will be accepted and paid for.”

It would perhaps be well to add some comment on these conditions in the light of experience gained by the Government of India in their relations with the Sultan of Muscat.

4. In regard to condition (1), it is an unfortunate fact that the Sultan’s inherent suspicions of foreigners have been reinforced by certain conduct to which His Highness has taken exception on the part of Pan American Airways personnel who for a time were at Salalah under insufficient supervision and control. The Political Agent advises that His Highness attaches the greatest importance to this condition and that it will be necessary to satisfy him fully in regard to it. The Government of India will be happy to offer their assistance in this matter and, if the Government of the United States so desire, they will be prepared to give an assurance to the Sultan that their Political Agent and Assistant Political Agent in Muscat will act for the U. S. A. Army Airforce in exactly the same manner as they do for the R. A. F. in their relations with the Sultan.

Condition (2) is consistent with the customary practice of Arab Rulers granting facilities in their States to foreign Powers, and the Government of India do not doubt that the United States Government will be content to meet His Highness the Sultan’s requests. Should your Government desire to receive suggestions as to the type and quantity of medical supplies which might be made available to the Sultan the Government of India will be very ready to call for a report from the Political Agent in the light of local conditions and circumstances. It should be added here that on the Political Agent pointing out that the provision of the arms, motor vehicles and medical supplies for which the Sultan asks might involve some delay, the Sultan informed him that he did not regard their supply as being in any way a condition precedent to the grant of the facilities required.

The third, fourth and fifth conditions will, it is assumed, not be regarded as introducing any particular difficulty. The R. A. F. have accepted certain local rules for their behaviour in Muscat territory [Page 537]and in regard to the posting of guards for their camps and personnel, and these have not been found onerous in practice. A copy of the standing orders for personnel of the R. A. F. stationed on the Southern Arabian Aerodromes in Muscat territory is enclosed for your information.5

As for the fifth condition, the Political Agent, Muscat will be instructed to use his influence to ensure that the Sultan will not make unreasonable demands in respect of the number of local guards to be employed or the pay which they are to receive.

5. I am to enquire whether His Highness the Sultan’s conditions are acceptable to the Government of the United States and if so to request your agreement to the Political Agent being instructed to inform the Sultan accordingly.

I have [etc.]

H. Weightman
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Treaty of amity and commerce, signed at Muscat, September 21, 1833, Hunter Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Vol. 3, p. 789.
  6. Personal Representative of President Roosevelt in India; Colonel Johnson had returned to the United States in May 1942 and did not go back to India. For correspondence on this subject, see Vol. i, pp. 593 ff.
  7. Not printed.