711.56386A/1–1651: Telegram

The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia ( Hare ) to the Department of State 1


452. Following telegram deals with status DAF negotiations and should be read as companion piece to immediately preceding telegram on military assistance (Embtel 451, January 16).2

1. Aside from difficulty caused by behind-scenes influences at Palace negotiations were plagued throughout by lack background Saudi negotiators and their failure do necessary preparatory work.…

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2. It was to get away from resultant coursing about in ever-widening circles that we insisted on Saudis putting ideas down in writing. Result was Yusuf Yassin’s hastily thrown together draft which translated and forwarded Department.3 Despite our request that Yusuf Yassin keep constant eye on our proposal during his drafting, paper which he produced is unacceptably one-sided and substantially along lines his presentation on January 3 including 2-year period, as reported in mytel 155 from Dhahran. Although this document completely unsatisfactory for negotiating purposes it at least has virtue of giving US something tangible to say “no” to and then try to get back on some more reasonable negotiating basis.

3. As to course of action we should now follow my thoughts run along much same lines as those expressed by Generals O’Keefe and Day in their telegram to General Kuter,4 i. e., that some basic re-thinking must be stimulated in high places. I am not sure however that we will find it necessary to do stimulating job ourselves. I refer in this connection to talk with Abdullah Sulaiman as reported in Embtel 441, January 12.5 Another new factor in situation is that Fuad Hamza has just arrived here en route to Riyadh and that Yusuf Yassin will be going to Cairo in next day or so to attend Arab League meetings so perhaps others may do our stimulation for us.

In any event, assuming that promised six months extension confirmed, we can now afford to allow stipulation here simmer for short time and use opportunity for review by Department of Documents submitted to it and preparation further instructions. If nothing then happens on this end of the line we can take initiative as normal procedural step since understanding when we left Riyadh was that we would submit our report and Yusuf Yassin’s draft and request instructions.

4. In its consideration this matter it is suggested that Department and Defense give particular attention to period of agreement. This was point on which opposition seemed to have real substance even among those tending favor agreement in principle. Not only were Saudis not convinced by our arguments that 25-year period necessary for planning purposes and obtaining appropriations but they seemed genuinely fear long period commitment as tending put Saudi Arabia in position vis-à-vis US similar position of Egypt and Iraq vis-à-vis Britain.

At present Saudis are talking in terms of two years but believe they would go to five years without too much difficulty. If such a period could fit in with our military planning it would have advantage of being for same term as proposed military assistance program and [Page 1024] would also relieve potential political measures which would almost certainly be generated by 25-year agreement regardless of spirit of friendship in which negotiated. It is difficult imagine “imperialism” of 5-year or even 10-year duration but somehow 25 years sounds different. Furthermore, world situation has changed so drastically since we originally began talking of 25-year period that review of this point now would seem reasonable.

Wish emphasize that we have held line firmly on 25-year period and may still be able to get it but respectfully submit we should give serious consideration to 5 or 10-year period on renewable basis as concession which might not only facilitate negotiations but at same time meet our actual needs.

5. Another point which came up repeatedly in negotiations was terms under which we hold airfields elsewhere. Saudi representatives were particularly interested in obtaining copies other agreements and made frequent reference press release on Azores as being more liberal than our proposals to SAG. We stated unable say what information available on subject but would inquire. Could Department supply us with appropriate information and comments on this subject which would serve convince Saudis they are getting good deal? If this possible, our negotiating position will be strengthened and at same time pressure on Saudi negotiators by Palace critics would be considerably diminished.

Information would also be particularly helpful on provisions in other agreements on legal jurisdiction re military dependents and American civilian employees and claims by foreign nationals since this is point on which Saudis particularly difficult and have shown disposition go into complicating detail. Policing of installations is another point on which information for purposes of argument would be helpful.

6. Although it would be our intention avoid using Yusuf Yassin’s draft as basis further negotiations we would also appreciate comments even of an informal character on points included therein, but not mentioned above, since same subjects can be expected come up again even in more objective discussion.

7. Although negotiations thus far have been exasperating because of atmosphere with which we have to deal and character of Saudi negotiators, I still feel there is reasonable prospect for agreement although we may have to resort to stronger tactics to jolt Saudis into recognition of facts of life. For moment, however, it would seem advisable allow short time to see if more favorable reaction may not [Page 1025] come about by itself due entry new figures on scene here.6 I may get some indication how wind is blowing when I go Riyadh on 19th to present Admiral Carney.7

  1. Repeated to Dhahran.
  2. In this telegram. Hare reported that the Saudi Arabians wanted arms badly but felt they deserved grant aid rather than cash reimbursable assistance. When they realized grant aid was impossible they tried to obtain a number of additional benefits as compensation and, the Ambassador reported, “fact that Saudis regard military assistance as quid pro quo for DAF agreement gives them a real reason to endeavor drive hard bargain.” His estimate of the situation was that the Saudi Arabians would come to terms in the end, particularly if the United States agreed to an expanded training program and the establishment of a small balanced air force. (786A.5/1–1651)
  3. See footnote 2, supra, for an account of the various drafts by Yassin and telegram 155 from Dhahran.
  4. Copy not found in Department of State files.
  5. Supra.
  6. Telegram 258 from the Department, January 20, advised the Embassy that “text Azores agreement on file Emb in State Bulletin Mar 14 1948 and background statement idem June 27 1948. You might also draw attn 99 year aspect US bases Brit terrs.” In addition, it concurred in the suggestion that the Embassy delay the resumption of negotiations for a short time. (711.56386A/1–1651)
  7. Telegram 469 from Jidda, January 23, infra, reported the Ambassador had presented Admiral Carney to the King on January 19.