741.90F/2–648: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Saudi Arabia

top secret   us urgent

32. Dept has had under consideration matter of proposed Anglo-Saudi treaty of alliance, regarding which SAG has requested US views, also SAG request that US supply equipment for and train [Page 219] mechanized Saudi forces with restricted function of defending Dhahran area and pipeline. These matters have been weighed carefully by Dept and Armed Services.

With respect to proposed Anglo-Saudi treaty you should inform King that both US and UK have common purpose of promoting security of Middle East and of supporting political independence and territorial integrity of all countries of that area including Saudi Arabia. In principle, therefore, US would view with sympathy security arrangements entered into between SAG and Brit for purpose of achieving this aim, provided (1) SAG considers such arrangements to be in Saudi interest, (2) such arrangements are not inconsistent with. US-Saudi agreement regarding Dhahran Airbase, (3) such an arrangement would not preclude free development of political military and economic relations between Saudi Arabia and US, and (4) such arrangements would be in harmony with UN charter.

As regards specific Saudi request above mentioned, you should state US regards security of Middle East and particularly of Saudi Arabia as necessary for maintenance of world peace and desires to implement its attitude as concretely as possible. At this particular moment supply and financial considerations and arms embargo to Middle East make it difficult to meet Saudi Arabian Govt request. Nevertheless, desirability of continued contact and discussion of SAG security problems is recognized. US Govt considers that among ways in which it might be able to assist in obtaining of this are following steps:

Accrediting of military attaché and military air attaché to Legation with no unusual restriction except as regards wearing of uniform. If this is not agreeable to SAG US Govt would be willing to assign military personnel to Legation on restricted basis to advise Minister on military matters, but considers result would not be satisfactory to either government unless scope of their activities became gradually enlarged.
Study by US military authorities of measures which US could take to assist SAG in creation force for defense airbase, pipeline and other strategic installations. Such studies are now in progress in Washington, In this connection King pointed out Jidda’s 268 [568]1 Dec. 16, the establishment of such a defense force cannot take place immediately but will require “a long time and a long training program”.
ATC which operates Dhahran Airport would like to expend several million dollars to put present buildings and equipment in first-class condition and to expand housing maintenance and repair facilities. These expenditures would be in addition to those made for any expanding of existing training facilities. High Air Force officer plans to visit Riyadh this month to set forth proposed US air force [Page 220] plan for further development Dhahran airbase. ATC, however, cannot go ahead with these plans without informing Congress and it is doubtful that it can obtain Congressional approval unless it is able to inform Congress that it will probably continue to operate field on behalf of SAG for considerable period subsequent to Mar 1949. King is undoubtedly aware that although present Dhahran training program is progressing satisfactorily it cannot be completed and Saudi Nationals cannot be adequately trained to maintain and operate airport by Mar 1949.

We are wondering if SAG would be disposed to arrange for extension over term of years of that section of agreement permitting US to operate airfield and to continue training SA nationals. Without some arrangement with King which would assure continued operation by US of field for number of years, we do not see how plans for improving field and for continuing training of SAG nationals can be formulated or carried out.

We suggest at your discretion you discuss this matter frankly with King and endeavor to ascertain what his attitude towards extension might be. If you could prevail upon him to ask us to stay our problems would be alleviated. If he makes no such request but if in your judgment after talking with him it would not be inopportune for us to ask for extension you are authorized to make such request. We would consider extension for period of five years would meet our purposes. We leave it to your judgment to decide whether definite terms should be discussed with King in your initial conversation. Please discuss with King matters contained in this telegram and inform Dept his reaction.2

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 8, p. 209.
  2. The Department, on February 8, requested Jidda to suspend further action concerning telegram 32, pending additional instructions. It cited the problems raised in telegram 47, February 3, from Jidda (see editorial note, p. 215) and a desire for further discussion with the British as causing a delay in making a definite approach to the Saudi Arabian Government (telegram 33, 741.90F/2–348).