786A.5/11–450: Telegram

The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia ( Hare ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

270. Deptel 149 October 31.1 It is unanimous opinion here that anything which could be done to simplify requirements would be highly desirable for following reasons:

Despite our maintenance consistent position on cash reimbursable feature of aid Saudis feel they are entitled to grant aid (a) because they have clearly professed their desire to have us as their “next friend” and feel that such a policy entitles them to treatment comparable to that we have accorded other countries such as Iran in which we have a close interest (aside from practical aspects, there is also considerable degree amour propre in this contention), (b) because Saudis gave us DAB rights without demanding compensation and feel gesture of comparable liberality on our part would be in order, and (c) because they maintain inability to pay due to financial stringency. We of course have arguments prepared to rebut these assertions which we hope will be effective in bringing Saudis around to our point of view but debate promises to be spirited and insistence on acceptance our demands in a highly formalized and detailed agreement might be straw that would break the camel’s back.
Immediate consideration aside, aversion of Saudis in principle to detailed formal agreements is well known phenomenon as pending negotiations on TWA, civil air rights and FCN bear witness. Generally [Page 1192] speaking Saudis take view that if intent is right details can be worked out satisfactorily but that without good will detailed undertakings on paper are unavailing.

Foregoing picture would of course be changed entirely if we were able on our part to assume an obligation in the agreement which would satisfy Saudis desire for security assurances by US. I take it however that best we can hope to do along this line in existing circumstances is something in nature of proposed letter of President.

In addition foregoing general comments we would specifically recommend that agreement should if possible take form of an exchange of notes covering basic requirements in simplest language. Our reading of MD 5/32 leads to conclusion that fundamentals are neither numerous nor complicated nor that they would be objectionable to SAG if properly presented.

Re payment terms Embassy suggests most inadvisable to present on “cash on barrel head” basis. Fact is that our offer of military aid is intended inter alia to have political overtones designed to make Saudis more responsible DAB lease. Thus it is important that gesture should not appear niggardly. Section IV, B, 1, of MD–5/3 appears to afford considerable latitude in this regard and it is believed that financial position of SAG sufficiently sound to permit considerable degree of liberality in guarantee payment.

Repeated information Dhahran 142 for General O’Keefe.

  1. Not printed; it informed the Embassy that Saudi Arabia had been officially designated eligible for cash reimbursable military assistance on October 26 and said that some modification of the requirements might be desirable “considering special nature SA case.” (786A.5–MAP/10–3150)
  2. The editors have been unable to identify this reference.