786A.022/10–950: Airgram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1


A–845. In the interest of advancing settlement of the boundary disputes between the Saudi Arabian Government and the United Kingdom in behalf of the Sheikhdoms, the Department has several observations to make regarding the British position on certain points as briefly outlined in the Embassy’s telegram No. 2075 dated October 9.2 It is believed that areas of dispute should be kept to a minimum and that progress toward a solution would be better served if exaggerated claims were not advanced. Similar observations have already been made to Embassy Jidda for informal discussion with the Saudi Arabian Government, reference Department’s instruction No. 7 dated March 3, 1950,3 a copy of which was sent to Embassy London. The Department has also made like comment to Aramco officials on several occasions.

It is believed that the United Kingdom contention in paragraph 1 of the telegram referred to ignores the reality of Ibn Saud’s continuous control in al Hasa since May 1913. Citation of Ibn Saud’s acknowledgement of Turkish sovereignty presumably refers to his acceptance of the title of Vali of Nedj and al Hasa in June 1914. This would seem to offer no support to the British position regarding the 1913 blue line demarcation, however, because the subsequent treaty between the United Kingdom and Ibn Saud signed December 26, 1915 and ratified July 18, 1916, acknowledges that al Hasa belongs to Ibn Saud. It is recalled, moreover, that the convention establishing the [Page 118] blue line in the first place was never ratified by either the United Kingdom or Turkey.

In regard to paragraph 2 of the referenced telegram, it is difficult to understand why there should be any reluctance to cite the instrument by which the Sultan of Muscat and Oman asked the United Kingdom to negotiate on his behalf, and the British reply. It would so easily settle the question beyond further dispute.

You may, at your discretion, discuss the views expressed above with the Foreign Office on an informal basis.

  1. Repeated to Jidda and Dhahran.
  2. Not printed; it reported the Foreign Office considered the Anglo-Turkish agreements of 1913 and 1914 a legal basis for its claims and stated the burden of proof for extravagant claims rested on Saudi Arabia. The United Kingdom also maintained it had the right to negotiate for the Sultan of Muscat, and considered itself bound by treaty to defend Abu Dhabi’s claim for Buraimi. (786A.022/10–950)
  3. Not printed; it advised the Embassy that the Department of State considered much of the Saudi Arabian documentation not convincing as support for its claims; but advised the Embassy not to communicate that position to the Saudi Arabian Government, nor to indicate that the Department had taken any position with regard to the claims. (786A.022/3–350)