Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge, Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Awalt)


Subject: Discussion with Mr. William Mitchell about DAF Negotiations.

Participants: Mr. Mitchell—Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force
Mr. JonesNE
Mr. AwaltNE
[Page 1048]

Problem: To afford an opportunity for Mr. Jones to inform Mr. Mitchell of his reactions to Saudi Arabian affairs in general and DAF in particular during his recent visits to Jidda and Dhahran.

Action Required: To prompt a greater sense of urgency in Defense to do whatever is necessary for completing the DAF negotiations.

Action Assigned to: NE


Mr. Jones said that he was very glad to have had the opportunity recently of making a trip to Saudi Arabia where he was able to receive Ambassador Hare’s first-hand observations about the negotiations this far, as well as to visit Dhahran to see what we actually had at the airfield. At Dhahran he also had the opportunity of meeting General Day of whom he carried away an extremely high opinion.

Mr. Jones said that he thought it was important to know at the outset what importance Defense attached to Dhahran, because in the first place Ambassador Hare and General Day were not sure of current thinking in Washington in this regard, and because time was running out on us.… Mr. Mitchell stated that the importance of Dhahran was increasing in USAF estimation every day. He added that even with Dhahran we do not have enough bases in the area for our purposes and that the plans for improvement and utilization of Dhahran were so essential that USAF was giving some thought to increasing the ante by some sort of a lump sum payment if necessary.… Mr. Jones suggested that a more practical approach might be to give some equipment rather than cash. Since the SAG attaches so much importance to a combat air force, he thought the gift of a few T–6 trainers, fitted out as showily as possible, might make a useful impression.… He emphasized the importance of speed, however, by pointing out that to give quickly is to give twice. Mr. Mitchell thought the suggestion an interesting one which might bear looking into. Mr. Jones also mentioned how distasteful to the SAG were the cash-in-advance aspects of reimbursable aid, which is reasonable to demand only of “crook nations”, and the waiver of obligation we insist on which allows us to divert material in the national interest. Mr. Mitchell said that USAF realized how objectionable these qualifications were and that their legal office was in the course of investigating means of avoiding these two factors in the MDAP agreement if at all possible. He also stated that the JCS had taken a favorable position toward the SAG requests for an air combat force, ammunition stocks, base workshop, and a training program at both the staff level and in utilization of the equipment. He said some final work was being done on these recommendations which would be completed very shortly.

Mr. Jones again emphasized the need for concluding the negotiations as quickly as possible because of the consistently decreasing effectiveness of the King and because the longer negotiations were [Page 1049] protracted the more demanding the SAG was likely to become. He added that it was important to conclude this agreement with Ibn Saud because he alone in Saudi Arabia had the strength of purpose and prestige to commit his country to an agreement of this kind which would undoubtedly brook great opposition for nationalistic reasons if attempted by his successor. He also said that we have no reason to doubt that Crown Prince Saud would not be equally desirous of making an agreement with the US of this kind if he were King, but that he lacks the influence over the people of Arabia that his father enjoys and would not therefore be in a position to make such a commitment.

Mr. Mitchell asked whether it would be advisable to have Ambassador Hare return with General Day. Mr. Jones said that we had given serious consideration to having the Ambassador return when Defense suggested that General Day be brought back. It was feared, however, that if the Ambassador returned it would tend to indicate to the SAG that we were attaching much more importance to the DAF than they had previously realized so that the ante for DAF would, therefore, be automatically jacked up. Mr. Jones added that we were in receipt of a reply from Ambassador Hare concurring in General Day’s recall and he said that if the Ambassador had thought it advisable for him to return also, he would have been sure to have suggested it in his reply.1

  1. See footnote 5, supra.