890F.24/23: Telegram

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

364. Your no. 417, February 26, 9 a.m. You are authorized to proceed to Saudi Arabia in order to discuss lend-lease matters personally with King Ibn Saud. Rountree is authorized to accompany you if you so desire in the exercise of your discretion. Your travel is chargeable to item for travel expenses in Legation’s contingent [Page 863]expense allotment and Rountree’s to existing allotment travel auxiliary funds.

It has been decided in principle jointly by the Department and the Office of Lend-Lease Administration, after consultation with officials of the British Embassy in Washington, to extend straight (as distinguished from cash reimbursable) and direct (as distinguished from retransfer through the British) lend-lease aid to Saudi Arabia in view of unusual fiscal conditions obtaining in that country. You may inform the King of this decision to extend direct lend-lease aid but you should, as you suggest, avoid raising exaggerated hopes on his part, pointing out the supply and shipping problems involved but assuring him that the needs of his country will be given most sympathetic consideration and that it is intended to furnish such supplies as circumstances permit.

You should acquaint the King also with the policy of this Government, in accordance with the law, in regularizing lend-lease arrangements by the negotiation of a lend-lease agreement. This has been done, or is in the process of being done, in the case of every country to which lend-lease aid has been extended. By means of this agreement, as you know, the recipient of lend-lease aid is given an opportunity to provide reimbursement for aid extended in such form and amount as circumstances warrant within the capacity of the recipient. You should point out to the King, however, that the nature and extent of such reimbursement on principles of fairness and equity would be determined only with his willing assent.

The following is from Stettinius for Rountree and for your information and guidance with reference to your no. 412, February 24, 8 a.m.59 “In re 60 trucks allocated by MESC for immediate delivery to Saudi Arabia: if requisition numbers are available, or failing that the serial numbers or other identification of the lend-lease trucks can be provided to OLLA so that bookkeeping transfer can be effected, then you are authorized to arrange to have Ibn Saud informed that these trucks are available to Saudi Arabia under direct lend-lease. Authorized representative of Saudi Arabian Government may sign appropriate requisition which should be forwarded to Washington by Rountree.”

In view of difficulties involved in obtaining new machinery for the Saudi Arabian irrigation project, Wathen60 has been dispatched on a special mission by the Department to the western part of the United States to ascertain what machinery belonging to the Government on Indian reservations may be available for this purpose. If he finds [Page 864]sufficient equipment an endeavor will be made to make it available to Saudi Arabia under lend-lease; if not efforts will be made to secure the equipment from other sources for delivery under lend-lease. In your conversations with the King you may state that this Government is making every effort to provide this equipment on a lend-lease basis.

Moose is in the United States but will return to Jidda as soon as transportation becomes available.

Please inform Jidda of the substance of this telegram.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Albert L. Wathen, Chief of the Engineering Branch, Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, and a member of the American Agricultural Mission to Saudi Arabia in 1942–43; for correspondence regarding this Mission, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 561 ff.