786A.5 MSP/4–1652

No. 1436
The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett) 1

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: In Mr. Foster’s letter of December 10, 1951,2 the Department of Defense indicated its view that political considerations might prove an over-riding and valid reason for furnishing grant military aid in token amounts to some of the countries of the Near East on a selective basis. The Department of State believes that political considerations involving the good faith of this Government make it advisable to extend such aid to Saudi Arabia under Section 202 of the Mutual Security Act of 1951. In accordance with my letter of January 2, 1952,3 I would like to seek your further consideration of this matter with the hope that you can concur in this view.

You will recall that during the course of negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Government for a new Dhahran Air Field agreement last year, and following discussion between representatives of our two Departments, the American Ambassador at Jidda was instructed to discuss the possibility, subject to favorable Congressional action, of some military grant aid to Saudi Arabia in order to assist toward a successful conclusion of the Dhahran Air Field negotiations. The subject was accordingly discussed with Saudi Arabian authorities who expressed satisfaction with the possibility of grant military aid and with the intent of the United States Government.

Grant military aid was, therefore, mentioned as an added inducement to the Saudi Arabian Government to extend United States rights at Dhahran Air Field. The principal inducement was, as you know, provision of military training and cash reimbursable military assistance for the purchase of arms, as projected under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. The negotiations for both Dhahran Air Field and Mutual Defense Assistance Program were successfully concluded on June 18, 1951.4 The Saudi Arabian Government has recently taken steps to implement the Mutual Defense Assistance Program agreed upon, and has undertaken to provide [Page 2414] a fund of forty-three million dollars from its own revenues. It has inquired whether the United States is now prepared to assist by extending grant military aid as discussed last May. It would be very difficult for that Government to understand why such assistance should be denied after the enabling legislation has been passed. Consequently, I urge that favorable reconsideration be given this matter by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I urge this the more strongly in view of Mr. Foster’s letter of March 19, 1952,5 describing certain supplementary requirements desired in connection with Dhahran Air Field. Since this request has been made following Saudi Arabia’s inquiry regarding grant aid, it is believed that it would be very difficult for Ambassador Hare to negotiate such an arrangement without some rather positive indication of our intention to extend such aid. It is understood, of course, that such assistance would be supplementary to cash reimbursable military assistance which, the Saudi Arabian Government has been given to understand, must constitute the major basis of its military procurement program. It is also contemplated that any equipment obtained through utilization of grant aid credits would be part of, and not additional to, the items approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as indicated in the letter from Secretary of Defense Johnson dated August 11, 19506 and the letter from Secretary of Defense Marshall dated August 4, 1951.7

In view of the above considerations, this Department invites the concurrence of the Department of Defense in recommending a Presidential finding of Saudi Arabia’s eligibility for military grant aid under Section 202 of the Mutual Security Act. The Department of State hopes this matter may receive the earliest attention possible in order that our obligation to Saudi Arabia in this connection may be fulfilled and in order to avoid undue delay in initiating negotiations for the supplementary rights referred to above.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
  1. This letter was drafted by Awalt and Meloy between Mar. 21 and Apr. 15.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed. It informed the Secretary of Defense that the Department of State welcomed the Defense statement that political considerations might justify the provision of military assistance to certain Middle East countries. (780.5 MSP/12–1051)
  4. See telegram 698 from Jidda, May 31, 1951, Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. V, p. 1053.
  5. Supra .
  6. Not printed, but see the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. V, p. 1184. Additional documentation on this topic is in Department of State file 786A.5.
  7. Presumably, this reference should read Apr. 4, 1951, rather than August. A letter from Secretary of Defense Marshall, dated Apr. 4, 1951, is printed ibid., 1951, vol. V, p. 1049. It contains the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on military equipment for Saudi Arabia.