711.56386A/5–3151: Telegram

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


698. Arrived Riyadh with General Day Yingling May 17 and returned Jidda today with agreed drafts on both DAF2 and mil asst,3 which, although not in all respects what we might have desired, believe give us essentials specified in our instructions.

Saudi negotiating was conducted almost exclusively by Yusef Yassin assisted by Khalid Gargoni, with Prince Feisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Prince Mishaal, new Min Defense, occasionally in attendance. At outset negotiations Yusef Yassin insisted that draft which he prepared at end of previous discussions (Embdes 221, Jan 134) should be used as basis negotiations. Unsatisfactory character of that document and usual intransigence of Yusef Yassin negotiations resulted in protracted and involved discussion but general attitude of Saudi negotiators was better than previous discussions and by slugging it out practically word by word reasonably satisfactory compromise was finally reached. It was clear throughout negotiations that main preoccupation of Saudis provide “window dressing” to meet sensitivity on sovereignty question and every para of agreement on DAF and to lesser extent on mil asst was scrutinized by Saudis from that angle.

[Page 1054]

Highlights of DAF agreement follow:

Period was fixed at 5 years renewable automatically for additional 5 years unless either party gives notice of intention to revise or terminate 6 months prior to termination of first 5 year period. Prince Feisal stated orally for record it was intention of SAG to continue for full 10 years and that that figure could be used for planning purposes but Saudis deemed preferable divide in 25-year [2–5 year] periods for publicity reasons.
Specific limitation on numbers of planes and mil personnel eliminated in new draft and this made subject agreement between Commander DAF and Min Defense on basis developments and requirements. General Day accordingly addressed letter to Min Defense requesting increase to 20 planes and 1,500 men and written reply by Min Defense so authorizing was promptly given.
Civilian personnel are exempted from customs, taxes and other govt charges.
Jurisdiction was thorny problem with Saudis insisting on jurisdiction over all civilians and also over mil personnel off base. We were eventually forced drop question civilian exemption but obtained agreement that in cases offenses by mil off base but in general environs (Dhahran, Dammam, Khobar Ras Tanura, et cetera) Saudis would arrest and conduct prompt preliminary investigation and then turn offenders over to US authorities for trial and punishment. Mil offenders outside this area would fall under Saudi law but this not believed important since such travel rarely occurs except for MATS flights which so far have given no difficulty.
On basis of general provisions in agreement, drafts prepared of exchanges letters between General Day and Min Defense5 covering allocation of existing buildings and listing of technical services to be performed by US mil establishment. In both cases statics quo essentially preserved with few changes agreed to by General Day.

Regarding mil asst, all Saudis, including even Prince Feisal, were obviously pleased by forthright character our proposals which went far in creating favorable atmosphere for DAF negots. Mention of possible grant assistance was also well received and foreseen complications entirely failed to develop either re effect on cash reimbursable negots or re assumed eligibility Israel, in both of which cases Saudis showed gratifying sense of perspective. Two most difficult problems in discussion asst concerned desire of SAG to receive only new equipment and question of diversion in US national interest. As result of discussion Saudi negotiators were brought to understand and accept our view on these subjects but convincing King was quite another matter since these were both subjects to which we personally attached great importance. In fact, seemed possible both DAF and mil asst agreements might be hanging in balance when King raised diversion matter on last day of negots but were fortunately able to reassure him [Page 1055] this was an article of general application specified by law and was not a policy question affecting SAG–US relationship.

Main point which I wish stress and which I know Gen Day will support is that present draft agreements and related documents which have been hammered out in two weeks of discussion not only represent best we can expect to obtain from Saudis in existing situation but also, as far as DAF is specifically concerned, constitute agreement which gives American commander at Dhahran essential administrative powers required. It is not the tidiest of documents but it is one with which commander DAF can “live” on the understanding that practical adjustment rather than rigid application of the written word usually governs in such matters in this country.

I therefore strongly recommend that documents being submitted shld not be subject to any change whatsoever unless such is absolutely necessary. As far as Saudis are concerned they regard documents as in final form and they have been given approval as such by King. To suggest changes at this time on any points, however small, wld run the very real risk of reopening the whole field of discussion in circumstances which might be less favorable than those in which we recently negotiated. I believe that risk shld not be run except for compelling substantive reasons. Yingling agrees.

I also urge that these documents be cleared by Defense and State as matters of utmost urgency in order that signature may be effected while current is running in right direction.6

General Day is telegraphing his estimate and recommendations separately to Defense.7

  1. Repeated to Dhahran.
  2. The agreement on Dhahran Airfield was transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 402 from Jidda, May 31 (711.56386A/5–3151). Agreed text is printed in 2 UST (pt. 2) 1466 and TIAS 2290.
  3. A note constituting an agreement on cash reimbursable military assistance with the Saudi Arabian Government, together with an explanatory letter covering points the Ambassador was authorized to discuss with the Saudi Arabian negotiators but which were not appropriate for inclusion in the agreement itself, were transmitted as enclosures to despatch 403 from Jidda, May 31 (711.56386A/5–3151). The text is printed in 2 UST (pt. 2) 1460 and TIAS 2289. A chronology of the discussions on Dhahran Airfield and military assistance at Riyadh from May 17 to May 30 was transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 401 from Jidda, May 31 (711.56386A/5–3151).
  4. Not printed, but see footnote 2, p. 1021.
  5. Copies of six letters exchanged between Day and the Minister of Defense were transmitted with the draft agreement as enclosures to despatch 402 from Jidda on May 31 (711.56386A/5–3151).
  6. In telegram 709 from Jidda, June 3, for McGhee, Hare restated his recommendation that the draft agreements on military assistance and Dhahran Airfield “be approved without change if possible and with utmost speed.” (711.56386A/6–351)

    A letter from McGhee to General Burns, dated June 7, quoted telegram 709. McGhee then added: “I strongly endorse these recommendations and steps are being taken in this Department to expedite consideration as soon as the despatches now enroute from the Embassy at Jidda are received. I hope that you will find it possible to alert all interested officers in the Department of Defense to be ready to give the draft agreements the promptest possible attention as soon as they are received.” (711.56386A/6–751)

    McGhee sent a similar letter to Finletter on the same day, enclosing a copy of his letter to Burns. In the letter to Finletter he stressed the need for prompt approval of the draft and said: “A word from you emphasizing the urgency of the matter might be most helpful.” (711.56386A/6–751)

    A letter from the Acting Secretary of Defense, dated June 15, concurred in the recommendation that the Dhahran Airfield Agreement be accepted as written and suggested that Hare be authorized to sign it (711.56386A/6–1551).

  7. Infra.