890F.00/12–847: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Legation in Saudi Arabia

top secret
us urgent

391. In reply questions raised by King, Hamza and Prince Saud (re Legtels 538 Dec 4, 539 Dec 4, 542 Dec 8,1 etc) you may inform SAG as follows:

[Page 1339]

US appreciates spirit of friendship shown by King and his Govt at this difficult time, agrees that our relations are of closest and that, apart from Palestine, there are no points of difference between two countries whose interests are complementary. Furthermore US is reassured that King does not anticipate situation will develop whereby he will be drawn into conflict with friendly Western Powers over Palestine question.

US has in past and will continue in future assist nations of Near East in resisting Communist influence. This Govt is not unmindful of the possible new aspect in this regard presented by developments relating to Palestine and is watching matter closely.

This Govt feels now as in the past that apprehensions regarding Middle East peace and position of Saudi family arising from feared intrigues of Hashemite family are primarily a matter for intra-Arab consideration, which is capable of solution by direct arrangement, by Arab League, or in last resort by UN. As King Ibn Saud has seen from events of the last nine months the US has been in communication with Govt of Great Britain more than once on this subject and is convinced that British are not supporting Hashemite claims to Greater Syria and that they have actually used restraining influence on Hashemite circles desirous of expanding their control.

You may assure King Ibn Saud there exists no understanding of any kind between US and Great Britain acknowledging all or any part of Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country as being a British zone of political or economic influence. Saudi Arabia is a sovereign kingdom and does not come within sphere influence any Power. It is true US seeks to maintain friendly relations with Great Britain which like the United States is interested in the preservation of peace and tranquility in the Near East. The two Governments, therefore, exchange views from time to time regarding various Middle Eastern problems of common interest. Such exchanges, however, do not include views and statements given in confidence to either Govt by Saudi Arabia or any other country.

This Govt has noted with appreciation and satisfaction that there have been no disturbances within borders of Saudi Arabia, despite state of public feeling re Palestine question. Note has been taken of request of King Ibn Saud for arms and munitions of war, including equipment for motorized divisions and military airplanes to be used solely for defensive purposes of Saudi Arabia and never to be used either against US or so as to conflict with any of our interests. In particular, consideration has been given to statement of King regarding “great pressure” being brought upon him by Hashemite states, and his feeling that his failure to come into open economic [Page 1340] conflict with US by cancellation of the oil concession may lead to incursion from Iraq or Transjordan into his domain.

Govt of US cannot conceive of situation arising under which Hashemite states would attack Saudi Arabia merely because King Ibn Saud continued to be friendly to United States and to private American companies doing business within borders of his country. This Govt, after careful consideration, recently decided that broad interests of peace can best be served if in existing circumstances US should for time being refrain from exporting arms and munitions to Palestine and neighboring countries.2

King Ibn Saud should be reminded that as previously indicated to him and to Prince Saud the inability on the part of US to provide him with military aid requested should not in any way be taken as an indication of any lessening of friendship on part of US towards Saudi Arabia. It should rather be considered as indication of US view that so long as Palestine situation remains acute, shipment of arms and munitions from US to Middle Eastern area should cease pending UN consideration of security aspects of that situation.

As was pointed out by Secretary Byrnes to Crown Prince Saud when he was in Washington last January, one of the basic policies of United States in Near East is unqualifiedly to support territorial integrity and political independence of Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia should therefore be attacked by another Power or be under threat of attack the US through medium of UN would take energetic measures to ward off such aggression.

For Childs. You are commended for able way in which you conducted these difficult conversations with King.

Sent Jidda as 391; repeated London as 5234.

  1. Nos. 539 and 542 not printed, but see footnotes 3 and 4, pp. 1337, 1338.
  2. See telegram Telmar 42, December 6, p. 1300.