811.7490F/11–2244: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

9918. Following is text of telegram dated November 21, 1944, from American Legation at Jidda:

[Here follows text of telegram 349, November 21, 1 p.m., printed on page 769.]

In view of fact that contract is between Saudi Arabian Government and Cable and Wireless, Jordan’s contention that notice was not necessary and that subject could be reopened at any time without notice is not believed to be valid. In this connection British contention as stated in your 10259 of November 22, 5 p.m. that British Government could not go so far as to tell Saudi Arabian Government in effect to cancel a contract with a British company is also invalid, since Article 17 of contract permits termination or modification every 5 years upon 6 months’ notice. It is clear therefore that notice is perfectly legal if given on or before December 1 and in any event does not entail cancellation but merely modification.

With regard to possibility of improving existing Cable and Wireless service it may be observed that Department informed that Allied military authorities in Mediterranean area are highly dissatisfied with service rendered in that area by Cable and Wireless and that this is one of the reasons why Sir Edward Wilshaw5 is inspecting the company’s installations in these parts. We again must insist that if it is to the mutual advantage of Saudi Arabia and the United States to operate a direct radiotelegraph service between the two countries [Page 771] and if the Saudi Arabian Government can establish such a service without violating its existing contractual relations with Cable and Wireless, which is obviously the case under the terms of Article 17 of the existing contract, then the British authorities should not indirectly or directly try to prevent the establishment of such a circuit.

If the only telegraph service between Santiago and London were routed by All America Cables through New York, this Government certainly would not support All America Cables in trying to prevent installation of a direct radiotelegraph circuit between Santiago and London. That is not this Government’s conception of the kind of relations that should exist between Allies in time of war, and does not constitute a proper basis for the kind of cooperation we envisage in the postwar period.

This matter should be considered objectively, sanely and in a mutually conciliatory manner by British and American authorities. There is no disposition on the part of this Government to hurt the interests of Cable and Wireless but we do believe that the commercial interests of one company should not stand as an obstacle to the desire of the Saudi Arabian and American Governments to improve telegraphic relations between the two countries, nor should it be the cause of bad feeling between our two Governments.

I wish you would present these views personally at earliest possible opportunity to Mr. Eden6 and express the hope that from now on there will be no further difficulty with regard to this matter and that we may confidently expect the closest cooperation between our two Governments, which can only redound to our mutual advantage.

  1. Chairman of Cable and Wireless, Ltd.
  2. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.