641.86A/4–452: Telegram

No. 1471
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1


4449. We today discussed UK–Saudi relations along lines Deptel 4691 March 242 and Jidda’s 535 April 2.3FonOff reception our suggestions was coolly correct. FonOff reps were reassuring in general terms re their intentions towards SA, stressing their desire for improvement in relations. Greatest barrier, however, to such improvement was intransigence . . . , on boundary question. Insofar as UK aware, this is only major factor standing between good UK–Saudi relations.

We said we were afraid matter not this simple and that other indications which we had recd from Saudi sources led us to believe that Saudis no matter how unjustifiably, were convinced that Brit pursuing course action in NE inimical to SA interests. We stressed that we did not subscribe to this theory and that we had made strenuous efforts to try to dispel these misconceptions from Saudi minds. They appear, however, to be deep-seated and we unfortunately have not been successful. We were therefore suggesting that strenuous effort be made, including dramatic move such as Churchill’s statement, in effort halt deterioration and bring about more cordial relations.

FonOff reps expressed strong hope we wld continue use our influence dispel Saudi fears re UK intentions and encourage Saudis to be more forthcoming in solving these problems. We told FonOff they cld be reassured on this point and that we were informing King he must meet Brit half way, that his attitude toward his land and people not conducive successful negots and that we had detected tendency be over-suspicious Brit.

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We particularly stressed importance we attached to suggestion re Churchill msg. FonOff reps said they wld wish consider this and other suggestions we had made and talk to us again next week. They asked for aide-mémoire which we are furnishing and added that they had been considering possibility suggesting conf with us on SA in order discuss, among other things, Aramco’s “marginal interests”. We said we wld welcome frank exchange including any views which UK might have. Our only purpose was to try to bring about improvement relations in view importance we attach Brit position in NE.

  1. Repeated as 44 to Jidda.
  2. Document 1469.
  3. Not printed; it reported the Saudi Arabians had agreed to end the secrecy regarding their request to the United States to intervene with the British regarding the boundary dispute, providing the King’s motivation was attributed to the general pattern of British activity in the area rather than to any single point. The Ambassador also saw no reason why, without attributing it to the King, the United States might not mention to the British the tribal incidents on the Iraqi-Saudi Arabian border, Iraqi activity in the Persian Gulf, and the Buraimi affair, as well as the boundary negotiations. (780.022/4–252)