Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Richard H. Sanger of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs


Subject: Review of Mr. Boggs’ Trip to London on Subject of Persian Gulf Offshore Boundaries

Participants: OIR/GE—Mr. Boggs2
NEA—Mr. Hare3
NE—Mr. Sanger
NE—Mr. Clark4
GTI—Mr. Kitchen5
L/P—Mr. Furman6
PED—Mr. Moline7

Mr. Hare welcomed Mr. Boggs back from the trip to England and explained to him that Ambassador Wiley8 was now in the United States. He said that Mr. Wiley felt it was all right for us and the British to proceed with our plans provided (a) the central division of the Persian Gulf was not called a “median line”, and (b) that no proclamations or publicity were put out on this subject. On the other hand, Mr. Hare told Mr. Boggs that Minister Childs at Jidda had sent numerous telegrams to the Department urging us to stop “backing and filling” because the Saudi Arabian Government would not wait indefinitely for our advice on what position it should take on its Persian Gulf offshore boundaries.

Mr. Boggs then described his trip to England in detail. He spoke most highly of the help he had received from First Secretary Lewis Jones. Most of Mr. Boggs’ work was with Commander Kennedy at the Hydrographic Department of the Admiralty in London, from the period November 23 to December 16, 1948. The American data had [Page 92]been based on American aeronautical charts but it was mutually agreed to do the work on British hydrographic charts. In this connection Mr. Boggs was surprised that in several important areas in the Gulf the British have made no new hydrographic surveys, since 1820’s.

Mr. Boggs went into considerable detail about the technical side of the work, pointing out that he and Commander Kennedy had decided to fix the northern end of the median line at the 29th parallel. Commander Kennedy worked out the lower Gulf and Mr. Boggs worked out the complicated problem of running transverse boundaries for the Saudi Arabian [-Kuwait?] Neutral Zone, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran. For the most part these were approximately at right angles to the coast line, a procedure which was discussed at some length in the meeting. Mr. Boggs noted that this procedure resulted in placing a certain number of islands which were claimed by one country in the waters of another, and he made it clear that he felt the solution as proposed would not be accepted without questioning.

Several maps were presented by Mr. Boggs along with a draft of a report9 which he and Commander Kennedy are to complete. It will then be submitted to the British and American Governments for comment and approval along with two detailed appendices.

Mr. Hare thanked Mr. Boggs for his careful and skillful labors in London and said that the Department was now faced with the problem of (1) going ahead with the overall “median line” scheme covering all the countries of the Persian Gulf as contemplated last autumn, or (2) endeavoring to work out the problem on an ad hoc basis using the work done by Mr. Boggs and Commander Kennedy as a basic concept.

It was agreed that the immediate problem was the sending of an answer to the Government of Saudi Arabia on its request for guidance10 in regard to the extension of its jurisdiction and control of the sea bed and natural resources of the Persian Gulf.

After a certain amount of discussion, it was agreed that Mr. Hare would ask Mr. Bromley11 to call at the Department on Thursday, January 6. At that time he would be notified of the United States’ plan to (a) approach the Saudi Arabian Government giving certain advice which had been requested by that Government and asked about (b) British acceptance of the Saudi Arabian-Bahraini lateral line and the Saudi Arabian-Kuwait Neutral Zone lateral line. In view of the fact that there was pretty general agreement about the median [Page 93]line (other than general agreement not to call it a median line) British acceptance of these lateral lines would enable us to give Saudi Arabia the advice she has requested about her Persian Gulf offshore boundaries. It was emphasized that, whereas recommendation in respect of the median line could be specific and based on certain principles, suggestions regarding lateral lines would be subject to negotiation by the authorities concerned and would also probably require final delimitation on the spot in view of the apparent inaccuracy of available charts.

  1. Samuel W. Boggs, Special Adviser on Geography in the Office of Intelligence Research.
  2. Raymond A. Hare, Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs.
  3. Harlan B. Clark of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.
  4. Jeffrey C. Kitchen of the Division of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs.
  5. John P. Furman of the Office of the Legal Adviser (Political Affairs).
  6. Edwin G. Moline, Assistant Chief of the Petroleum Division.
  7. John C. Wiley, American Ambassador to Iran.
  8. Copy not found in Department of State files.
  9. See telegram 164, March 29, 1948, from Jidda, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. v, Part 1, p. 11.
  10. Thomas E. Bromley, First Secretary of the British Embassy.