641.86A/3–1152: Telegram

No. 1468
The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Hare) to the Department of State1


477. King’s message (Embtel 474, March 102) puts us difficult position. Hitherto we have firmly maintained Brit and Saudi’s shld iron out differences and our role shld be confined acting honest broker. In consequence, aside reporting King’s frequent representations this subject to Dept and London, I have always kept Brit Amb [Page 2461] fully informed and discussed with him how best meet situation. But now King, in atmosphere increasing restiveness, holds our neutral assistance ineffective; that, if difficulty to be resolved peacefully, we must step in; and that King’s approach shld be kept secret. Of course we cannot be placed in position having King dictate our policy but he does occupy fairly consequential place in our scheme of things and, despite his advancing years, his power political perception has been keen. Consequently, when he professes see signs Brit maneuvering behind certain area developments, believe inadvisable treat as mere distortions of dotage.

While by no means disposed accept King’s allegations re Brit without considerable discount, must be admitted that Brit action and attitude do in fact give King certain ground for misgiving. . . .

How act effectively and fairly in such situation hard decide but fol suggested: As regards Brit, feel time ripe for frank exchange views of type found so profitable in past. Such discussion shld be both short term and long term.

Re short term, most essential is some gesture reassure Saudis, especially King. For example special message might be sent King by Churchill whom King holds in high regard and concerning whom I have often heard King make comment that Churchill had once called him “the man of the black nights” (i.e. one who stands firm in time of trouble) but now Brit no longer refer to him such terms; King repeats this story over and over as particular example Brit change attitude. Possible Brit reply re renewal boundary negots cld also be used as vehicle for message of assurance.3

Re long term, believe we cld properly bring up to date discussion with Brit re union movement in order make certain some development re Jordan, Syria or Kuwait does not catch us by surprise. Strongly recommend we shld also attempt obtain from Brit clarification their intentions re Persian Gulf Shaikhdoms. Realize solution this matter difficult in extreme and natural tendency shy away from it but from now on it is a problem which will develop with increasing seriousness and delay cld be dangerous.

Re Saudis, suggest we reply saying appreciate King’s desire resolve difficulty with Brit before more serious and such attitude characteristic King’s statesmanship. Furthermore, how make well [Page 2462] aware our interest his welfare and that his country and also knows past efforts made by us facilitate agreement between Brit and Saudis who both our friends. We wish continue do anything we appropriately can assist and to that end will seek occasion discuss matter frankly with Brit. However, must proceed not only with reasonableness and fairness but also with delicacy and we must ask HM leave to our discretion timing and manner of our approach. In meantime we hope HM and his reps will take advantage every opportunity talk constructively with Brit.

Doubt foregoing will go far toward satisfying King but submit for consideration in hope Dept will have other and better ideas. Much of course will depend on whether Brit prepared make real gesture.

Recall Prince Faisal remaining here in order take our reply to King and therefore hope action may be expedited to extent possible.

Request this tel like reftel be held confidential by addressee offices . . . .

  1. Repeated to London, Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus.
  2. Supra.
  3. Telegram 4030 from London, Mar. 14, advised the Department of State the Embassy was “somewhat disturbed” at the suggested reply to Ibn Saud. While the Embassy granted that the British attitude toward Saudi Arabia might not be all that it should be, it considered the Saudi Arabians unrealistic about British intentions. The Embassy questioned the desirability of full-fledged talks at the time. In view of the complicated nature of the boundary negotiations, it had asked the Foreign Office to prepare an informal memorandum setting forth the British side of the story, and wanted to delay any decision to talk to the British until there had been a chance to study the British version of the facts. (641.86A/3–1452)