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



U.S. Recognition of Yemen
Yemeni Claim to Shabwa

Participants: Qadi Mohamed ibn Abdullah al-Amri, Yemeni Minister of State, Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief of Yemeni Delegation to UN
Abdullah A. al-Erian, interpreter (an Egyptian student)
R. A. Hare, NEA1
H. B. Clark—ANE2
F. H. Await—ANE


Endeavor to overcome the impasse reached in April 1948 when we failed to receive assurances which we had requested that the Yemeni Government would observe its international obligations.
Attitude to be taken toward Yemeni observations on the dispute with the British over territory in the Shabwa area.

Action Required:

Draft message to Yemen extending recognition.
Definition of attitude toward Yemeni claims.

Action Assigned to: ANE

Summary: Qadi Mohamed al-Amri called on Mr. Hare today at 2:30 by appointment made at Yemeni request Tuesday, December 20. After exchanging generalities regarding UN, Qadi Mohamed expressed his gratitude for the hospitality rendered him and his delegation [Page 1356] in New York which he considered a mark of the cordiality of spirit existing between the United States and Yemen. He added that Yemen longed to strengthen the relations between our two countries. Mr. Hare reciprocated these sentiments and asked if there was any new development in this connection. Qadi Mohamed stated that Yemen respected the attitude of the United States on recognition, but it considered the United States a sympathetic nation from whom more cooperation could be expected than from others. It was therefore difficult in the Yemeni view to rationalize the fact that we attached conditions to our recognition, as no other state had made that a requirement in recognizing the Government of Imam Ahmed. Mr. Clark observed that it was customary for us to do so and that it had happened twice in respect to Syria within the year. Qadi Mohamed pointed out that in Syria new governments had come into power, while in Yemen Imam Ahmed’s Government was a continuation of his father’s and was subject to the same internal and external obligations as that of Imam Yahya.

Mr. Hare inquired why, if the Government of the Yemen did in fact recognize its international obligations, it should be hesitant so to state. Qadi Mohamed explained that it was largely a matter of pride and personal feelings of the Imam, but he reiterated that his Government did in fact recognize its international obligations and that he wished so to state. Mr. Hare then asked if Qadi Mohamed was speaking in a personal capacity or on behalf of his Government. Qadi Mohamed replied that he was speaking officially and under Government authorization. Mr. Hare emphasized the importance of the statement made and said he wished to make its official character clear beyond any doubt in order that it might not be challenged in the future. Specifically, he stated that it would be the intention of the Department to make reference to this statement of Qadi Mohamed in such message of recognition as might be sent to the Government of Yemen, and also to make it a matter of official record in the Department. Qadi Mohamed re-emphasized his authority to make the statement and said he would confirm to his Government that he had made it as directed. (Note: In anticipation that the Yemeni representative might intend to give oral assurances of his Government’s recognition of its international obligations, prior advice had been secured from L regarding the acceptability of an oral statement. It was the opinion of L that a clear oral statement did in fact constitute adequate assurance.)

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In discussing the best means of completing recognition, Qadi Mohamed hoped that we would send telegraphic advice to his Government, to be followed later by a document presented by an official visitor. He expressed his gratitude for our friendly attitude and explained his country’s previous reluctance to give assurances as oriental skepticism of wordly affairs with which it had had too brief an association. On our part, Mr. Hare expressed our satisfaction and assured Qadi Mohamed that recognition has never been a question of substance, but was a problem of procedure only.

A second subject was broached by Qadi Mohamed embracing the Wendell Phillips3 expedition into the Shabwa area. He said that his Government had recently declared an open-door policy to oil company exploration in Yemen, preferably by American oil companies. He added that there was likewise no objection to scientific expeditions. In either case, however, he said Yemen should be consulted and its permission obtained. Shabwa and adjoining areas, he stated, are in dispute with the British and the issue has not been settled.4 Yemen wants an amicable settlement, but the British authorities have undertaken unilateral and unfriendly action by having bombed an objective there. Such actions, he observed, are obstacles to the friendship Yemen desired to maintain with the British and Yemen may be forced to submit the case to the Security Council if a peaceful settlement cannot be made.

Mr. Hare said that we appreciated his views, that we were sorry to hear of differences separating two friends, and that we hoped the U.K. and Yemen could settle their difficulties as friends without recourse elsewhere.

  1. Raymond Hare, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs. On August 28, 1950, the White House announced the appointment of Hare as the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Minister to Yemen.
  2. Harlan B. Clark, Officer in Charge of Lebanon-Syria-Iraq Affairs.
  3. Wendell Phillips was an American archeologist who was planning to pass through the Shabwa area with an expedition and had received permission from the British authorities in Aden to do so. He had not contacted Yemen for permission. A memorandum from Await to Hare, dated December 20, 1949, not printed, reported a note had been drafted, but not yet cleared, to be delivered orally by the United States Delegate to the United Nations to the Yemeni; Delegation to the United Nations in New York, advising that Phillips had been informed of the views of the Government of Yemen. (McGhee files, lot 53D468) Lot 53D468 contains copies of memoranda and correspondence of Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs George C. McGhee for the years 1949–1951.
  4. Representatives of Yemen and the United Kingdom met in London between August and October 1950, and set up a fact-finding ‘commission to look into the boundary dispute over Shabwa, a part of the Eastern Aden Protectorate claimed by both countries. (Policy statement on Yemen dated February 8, 1951, 611.86H/2–851. This policy statement will be included in the documentation on Yemen scheduled for publication in a forthcoming volume of Foreign Relations.)