786A.5 MSP/10–1153

No. 1456
Memorandum of Conversation, Prepared in the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1



  • Prince Feisal, Saudi Foreign Minister
  • J. Jefferson Jones, III, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
  • Clifford R. Nelson, Second Secretary
  • Mohammed Massoud, Embassy’s Arab Consultant
[Page 2444]

Mr. Jones referred to the conversations in Riyadh between Saudi and U.S. officials regarding a draft military grant aid agreement between the two countries, during the course of which the Saudi officials had raised certain objections to the terms of the draft.2 The Embassy had submitted the questions raised by the Saudi representatives to the Department of State and had now received clarification and elucidation of them. Consequently the Embassy was prepared to resume the discussions at the convenience of the Saudi Government. Mr. Jones stated that a note to the foregoing effect would be left with the Foreign Minister at the conclusion of the interview.

Prince Feisal suggested that the Embassy might wish to supply to the Saudi Government a revised draft of the agreement which would embody the modifications resulting from the State Department’s consideration of the points raised by the Saudi officials at Riyadh. He thought that such a procedure might be advisable as it would provide an opportunity for the Royal Diwan to consider and reach an opinion on the revised draft prior to resumption of the discussions and would thus expedite the course of the negotiations.

Mr. Jones stated that, in his opinion, it would be desirable to furnish Saudi representatives with certain oral explanations at the time it handed over the revised draft. He believed that the oral explanations would be of value in the consideration by the Saudi Government of the revised draft. If the Saudi Government wished, however, a short meeting could be held in the immediate future in order to present the revised draft and the meeting could then be adjourned in order to permit consideration by His Majesty’s advisers. Prince Feisal said that he was agreeable and that his original comment was a mere suggestion on his part.

Prince Feisal stated that he had recently read the reports prepared by the Saudi Government’s representatives on the discussions of the draft military grant aid agreement with Ambassador Hare and other U.S. officials. He had been impressed by the frequency with which the U.S. representatives had replied to Saudi objections to the draft with the statement: “We are bound by the law”. He believed that one of the great difficulties in achieving agreement between the two Governments was the lack of flexibility of the United States Government, which was in contrast to the complete flexibility of the Saudi Government’s position on the question. He thought that the U.S. legislation governing military grant aid to countries as widely divergent as those of Europe and the Middle East should make it possible to take into account the [Page 2445] peculiar conditions existing in each country. To illustrate his point, Prince Feisal referred to Egypt, which did not want any foreign soldiers on Egyptian soil, and to Great Britain, which had no objection to the stationing of American troops in the country.

Mr. Jones replied that the U.S. legislation controlling military grant aid required that certain provisions of a general nature be included in grant aid agreements. Nevertheless, there was a large degree of flexibility, particularly with respect to the substance of individual grant aid programs, since the type of aid would be worked out between the U.S. and the countries concerned and thus would reflect the needs of each particular country. Moreover, he hoped and believed that the mandatory provisions of the draft agreement, as it was modified by the Department as the result of Saudi objections, would not be unacceptable to the Saudi Government.

Prince Feisal said that the note, together with the views expressed by Mr. Jones regarding the procedures to be followed for the resumption of discussions, would be sent to the Royal Diwan for study. He also said that he would attempt to have an answer within the next several days.3

  1. Despatch 140, Oct. 11, transmitted a copy of this memorandum to the Department of State. The Chargé pointed out that one of the main obstacles to the conclusion of an agreement would be the necessity for including provisions required by the legislation governing grant aid agreements. (786A.5 MSP/10–1153)
  2. Presumably this refers to the June 28–July 2 conversations at Riyadh, mentioned in the editorial note, supra.
  3. The Saudi Arabian decision was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram 109 from Dhahran, Document 1461.