711.90B/4–648: Telegram

The Minister in Saudi Arabia (Childs) to the Secretary of State


182. London’s 1347, April 3 to Department.1 It will be recalled (Legtel 252, June 20, 19472) as long ago as last year His Majesty King Ibn Saud was thinking along lines Arab League resolution when he suggested multilateral understanding between US, Great Britain and Arab States. Department’s reaction contained in its No. 203 to Jidda,3 3208 to London of July 26, 1947.

When I was in Riyadh in February (Legtel 77, February 21, repeated London as 20) Fuad Bey Hamza, King’s principal diplomatic adviser there, informed me His Majesty had developed his original idea of tripartite agreement embracing narrow objectives originally contemplated to one under which US, Great Britain and Arab States would attain those security objectives British were seeking in their bilateral arrangements with Iraq, SAG and Egypt. He emphasized [Page 228] such tripartite or multilateral pact would ease problem of those Arab states in making individual arrangements and would facilitate security objectives we all sought in Middle East.

There has been good deal of thinking along these lines certainly in Saudi Arabia (see Legdesp 36, February 124 reporting conversation with my French colleague in which he advanced similar idea). In my comment in that despatch I remarked on the advantages which appeared to me of multilateral pact embracing US, Great Britain and perhaps French, as well as Arab States, in form of Middle East Locarno Pact.

When Azzam Pasha, Secretary General Arab League, visited Jidda last month we discussed subject at some length and Azzam expressed himself to me as heartily in favor such multilateral mutual defense agreement within scope Charter UN. Azzam stressed as Fuad Hamza had to me very useful purpose such pact would serve relieving countries such as Iraq and Egypt from criticism which might be made by extremist elements those countries of subservience sovereign interests those states to single states [state?]. Great Britain, in granting strategic facilities. He thought if such strategic facilities granted under multilateral arrangements to US and Britain, this criticism would disappear. (See Legation’s despatch 76, March 16.4)

My Syrian colleague has expressed himself to me recently as very much in favor such arrangement and it is believed by me quite certain in view foregoing it would be particularly welcomed by Saudi Arabia. If multilateral pact were not considered feasible comprising US, Britain, Arab States and perhaps subsequently France, consideration might be given bilateral pacts as suggested in Arab League resolution.

It is recognized there are certain obvious disadvantages to inclusion even eventually France in such pact in view low esteem in which France held by Arab States. At same time it occurs to me association France would have very helpful psychological value in France itself in attaching that country more closely to US and Great Britain and propaganda value such inclusion could perhaps be made convincing at least to Saudi Arabia in case it was considered desirable bring France in later after US–Great Britain arrangements had been concluded.

General advantages such pact whether multilateral or bilateral in character on our part and Great Britain’s are to me very great. In addition those already mentioned they would or should relieve King Ibn Saud his perpetual apprehensions concerning his being left defenseless against Hashemite designs. Such arrangements would moreover [Page 229] supply so far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, answer raised final paragraph mytel 158, March 22, 3 p. m.5 concerning desirability our coordinating our strategic arrangements in Saudi Arabia with Britain in which I was looking ahead also their eventual combination whole Middle East area.

It is going rather far afield but thought is thrown out for what worth that these Middle East arrangements might even be made part of larger whole of which western European pact would be one facet and Middle East other.6

Sent Department 182, repeated London 51, Baghdad 14. By pouch to Cairo, Beirut, Damascus.

  1. Not printed. Beirut, on March 27, had advised that at a meeting of the Political Committee of the Arab league held at Damascus, a resolution had been adopted recommending that “member states consider proposal to be submitted to next session Arab League Council to request US and Britain to resolve outstanding differences with any individual state and thereafter to sign treaties of alliance with each state” (telegram 113, 890B.00/3–2748). Telegram 1347 from London reported the interest of the British Foreign Office in the resolution as a basis for defending the Middle East (890B.00/4–348).
  2. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v. p. 750.
  3. Ibid., p. 752.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. London conveyed the substance of this telegram to the British Foreign Office; a spokesman for the Foreign Office, on April 8, stated the British Government’s opinion that a “multilateral pact would be of very little use: what His Majesty’s Government would like is multilateral Arab League resolution under which bilateral but interlocking pacts could be negotiated with Arab states.” (telegram 1456, from London, 711.90B/4–848)