Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Fred H. Awalt of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs


Subject: Visit by Aramco officials

[Page 101]
Participants: Mr. James Terry Duce—Vice President, Aramco
Mr. Fred Davies—Vice President, Aramco
Mr. W. Spurlock, Legal Counsel, Aramco
Col. Wm. A. Eddy, Consultant, Aramco
NEA—Mr. Burton Y. Berry
NE—Mr. Fraser Wilkins
NE—Mr. Richard Funkhouser
Mr. Fred H. Awalt


Mr. Davies, Mr. Spurlock and Col. Eddy have recently arrived home from Saudi Arabia and called upon Mr. Berry to discuss Saudi Arabian problems. They expressed their collective opinion that the Saudi Arabian Government was becoming disillusioned toward the United States and the effectiveness of its interest in Saudi Arabia. They stressed the feeling of insecurity the King had in respect to the Hashemites and the vulnerability of the Persian Gulf area from Russia, as well as uneasiness toward British extension of power in the area in default of a positive American attitude toward Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Davies mentioned military assistance as an important factor in our relations which had not been implemented as yet, failure of which was causing anxiety and impatience in the Saudi Arabian Government. He asked what prospects were for early action. Mr. Berry explained that it was difficult for the Saudis to appreciate how slowly democracies must move in important matters of state, but that we at long last obtained the necessary legislative action in July under which Saudi Arabia could be designated as eligible for cash reimbursable military assistance,1 which was what they had asked us for two years ago. Mr. Berry added that we planned to begin our discussions with the Saudi Arabian Government soon after Ambassador Hare’s arrival at Jidda the latter part of this month. Mr. Davies inquired whether this aid would be free or extended on some favorable basis such as lend-lease. Mr. Wilkins explained that the act as passed by Congress allowed no terms other than full purchase, cash in advance or on delivery. Mr. Davies said that would be very unsatisfactory to the King, and Col. Eddy stated that it was not so much a question of money as much as it was a matter of pride. He said the Arabs were aware of our giving grant aid of hundreds of millions to other countries, and they believed their country was at least as deserving in point of vulnerability to Russian designs and extent of American investment. Consequently, Col. Eddy explained, it would be helpful if we could find a way to extend some grant aid, if only a million dollars worth and let them purchase the rest. Col. Eddy said that such a token grant would give them the feeling of partnership with us and our allies which would bolster their pride and create a feeling of good will far more valuable than the sum involved.

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Mr. Spurlock brought up the problem of boundaries and said that it would boost the Saudi Arabian Government’s morale enormously if the United States would take a friendly interest in the problem. He said that Saudi Arabia feels quite alone and at the mercy of the British in these disputes. Mr. Duce asked what we said to the UK regarding demolition of island markers, and Mr. Awalt replied that we expressed our concern and hoped nothing further would be done to upset the status quo until the UK and Saudi Arabia had an opportunity to discuss their claims on or after November 20. Mr. Wilkins added that we had also suggested to the British that they exchange with Saudi Arabia the bases for their respective claims to areas in dispute and also to cite the authority by which the UK was empowered to act for the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. Mr. Duce asked if we had told the Saudi Arabian Government we had done so, and Mr. Wilkins replied that we had informed our Jidda Embassy which would undoubtedly inform the Saudi Arabian Government informally.

Mr. Davies asked if we could not give some assurances to Saudi Arabia for its territorial integrity. He said the tripartite declaration2 had been received with some misgivings and that a unilateral public statement by us alone would be more reassuring to Saudi Arabia than anything else. Mr. Wilkins asked if a letter from the President to the King expressing friendship and interest in the independence and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia would be satisfactory if it were made public. Col. Eddy thought it would serve the purpose most admirably. He also suggested that we offer some concrete gesture of friendliness. Mr. Berry asked if an invitation to the King to visit the United States would serve the purpose, and Col. Eddy said it would be deeply appreciated, although he would no doubt send a son instead. Col. Eddy suggested that Prince Mansour, the Minister of Defense, should be invited to come to the States to visit our military bases and schools and be sent home with a plan of cooperation both in Saudi Arabia and here, such as in the training of Saudi cadets. It was pointed out that we were already doing that and would do more but the availability of Saudi trainees with sufficient English was a limiting factor. It was agreed, however, that such a program was desirable and that a visit by the Defense Minister to the US would be useful. We had deferred inviting him heretofore since it would be pointless without a program of military assistance to offer.

  1. For documentation on cash reimbursable military assistance for Saudi Arabia, see the editorial note, p. 1182.
  2. The Tripartite Declaration Regarding Security in the Near East was printed in the Department of State Bulletin, June 5, 1950, p. 886. For documentation on the declaration; see vol. iii, pp. 828 ff. and pp. 122 ff. herein.