The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Forrestal)

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Attached is a copy of a letter from Mr. T. E. Bromley, First Secretary of the British Embassy in Washington, to Mr. Gordon P. Merriam, Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State, dated March 24, 1948,1 which it is requested be referred to Major General Alfred M. Gruenther, Director [Joint Staff] of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

You will note that in this letter Mr. Bromley states that it has been decided in London that it would be better not to resume negotiations with King Ibn Saud until it can be seen how the situation will develop in Iraq. In the opinion of the British this period of delay provides a good opportunity to decide in detail exactly what strategic facilities the British and Americans require from Saudi Arabia.

You will recall that the British previously approached the US Chiefs of Staff, through the British Joint Services Mission in Washington, and that after discussion the Joint Chiefs of Staff replied that they would prefer that the document should receive prior consideration by the Department of State.2 With this in mind the Foreign Office has now asked the British Embassy in Washington to obtain the considered views of the Department on this question, together with those of the US Chiefs of Staff. [Here follows comment on a British, paper concerning British strategic requirements in Saudi Arabia.]

Comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on this paper and their decision as to what strategic facilities the United States will require in Saudi Arabia will be appreciated. When they have come to a conclusion on this matter it might be well to hold a meeting with members of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review and coordinate our positions before response is made to the British.

Sincerely yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Not printed.