886A.2553/1–1851: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia 1


254. Brit Emb reps Jan 15 raised question SAG–Sheikdoms boundary dispute2 and expressed hope Dept wld use its influence keep Aramco out of negots. UK prepared take similar step with Brit oil companies. UK felt oil co meddling overtly or behind scenes wld [Page 281] jeopardize success negots. Specific ref made Fact Finding Boundary Comm as body from which oil co shld be excluded.

Reps stated Brit component Comm wld consist of Pelly, rep Brit Emb Jidda, Brit surveyor and possibly FonOff legal adviser in addition to native guards and reps each Sheikhdom concerned.

Dept pointed out SAG component Comm might feel at disadvantage without Western technicians to match talent Brit component. Dept agreed in principle oil co abstention desirable but as practical matter doubted whether this entirely possible. Re speaking Aramco in sense desired by UK Dept expressed desire consult you since Aramco likely reveal Dept’s action to SAG if and when Aramco aid sought and SAG wld take this as evidence indirect US intervention in dispute which US anxious stand aside. Dept stated situation might occur later in which US cld assist its Saudi and Brit friends toward settlement and therefore it might be well keep US capacity for impartial good offices unimpaired.

Recommendations requested.3

  1. Repeated to London.
  2. For previous documentation on the boundary dispute between Saudi Arabia and the Shaikhdoms in the Persian Gulf and the setting up of a factfinding commission to handle the matter, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, pp. 9 ff. The British Government handled foreign relations for the Shaikhdoms and was negotiating with Saudi Arabia on their behalf.
  3. Telegram 501 from Jidda, February 2, advised the Department of State that Aramco had been careful to avoid identifying itself directly with the frontier problem and felt none of its personnel should participate in the forthcoming negotiations. Aramco was, however, prepared to make available to the Saudi Arabian Government, for consultation on factual aspects of the tribal question only, a member of its staff who had made a detailed study of the matter. Aramco had also informally suggested Richard Young, a member of its legal staff, for the position of legal counsel to the Saudi Arabian Government. The Ambassador suggested the Department tell the British of Aramco’s position, since it would go far to meet the British request without having put the U.S. Government in the position of having imposed the solution. (886A.2553/2–251)