786A.5/3–351: Telegram

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

top secret

547. While awaiting instructions to permit renewed DAF and military assistance negotiations following thoughts submitted for consideration Department:

In discussion DAF agreement with Secretary Finletter at Istanbul,2 he indicated he was not particularly concerned re prospect of shortened period3 but said he attached great importance to immediate and free use of DAF in event outbreak hostilities. I assume this latter idea has been considered in preparation new instructions.… An analogy between this situation and that in Turkey is apparent.4
I trust Department and Defense appreciate importance Saudis, and particularly Minister Defense Prince Mansour, attach to question of combat aircraft. Although in my discussions with them Saudis [Page 1047] appeared fairly interested in army and naval equipment included in JCS program, it was clear that what really brought a glint to their eye was idea of Saudi Air Force. In situation where Saudis are strongly dissatisfied with cash reimbursable feature of proposed assistance, is it too much to hope that we cannot at least meet them part way in allowing them to purchase something they really want? I appreciate all the arguments re availability, Saudi incapacity in aviation, etc., but this is a case where cold logic on our side may be expected to meet correspondingly frigid reception by Saudis. It is submitted that this is a case where a gesture in deference to Saudis desires might pay important dividends. For instance, we might even wish to defer idea of naval program in favor of very modest air program.
In view of extent of re-thinking required in connection reconsideration DAF or military assistance matters by Department it would be immensely helpful if either Department or Defense could send out someone who has been following these matters closely and could act as consultant in renewal negotiations. During original negotiations I had advantage of having been in Washington shortly before and was consequently familiar with background but in meantime much water has flowed over dam and assistance of a qualified consultant would be invaluable.5

  1. Repeated to Dhahran.
  2. For documentation on the Istanbul Conference of February 14–21, 1951, see pp. 50 ff.
  3. The original draft of the Dhahran Airfield Agreement, transmitted to Jidda as an enclosure to Instruction 19, November 17, 1950, proposed a 25-year agreement. Telegram 155 from Dhahran, January 5, reported that Yassin’s draft proposed a 2-year period, with automatic renewal. Instruction No. 33 to Jidda, March 1, informed Hare there was “no inflexible attachment on our part to the 25-year period,” and the Department of the Air Force would approve a retreat from 25 years to 10 years. It instructed the Ambassador, however, not to consider a period of less than 10 years without specific reference to Washington. Documentation is in Department of State file 711.56386A.
  4. See pp. 1100 ff.
  5. Telegram 310, March 13, from Washington, advised Hare that when negotiations resumed, “Dept will be prepared to assign Thayer, NE, for short temporary detail, and Def also considering sending officer acquainted JCS views, if you concur.” In telegram 559 from Jidda, on March 14, Hare replied that he would be glad to have Thayer assist, “on understanding he will be fully briefed re military desiderata … also heartily welcome defense officer acquainted with JCS views.” The Department of State replied, in telegram 332, on March 26, that only a group of consultants could meet the requirements Hare listed in telegram 559. For that reason the Department of Defense considered it more expedient to recall General Day to Washington for a quick full briefing with a group of specialists. Hare concurred, in telegram 576, March 27, from Jidda. Documentation is in Department of State file 711.56386A.