641.86A/5–1352: Telegram

No. 1472
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State 1


5167. Yesterday we resumed discussions with FonOff on Saudi Arabian boundary problems and gen ques UK–Saudi relations (Embtel 5099 May 82). FonOff furnished us aide-mémoire which replied to points contained our aide-mémoire Apr 7 (Embtel 4449 Apr 43). Copy being pouched.4

On Anglo-Saudi relations FonOff stated Brit policy of close friendship with SAG and Ibn Saud remained unchanged. On specific points mentioned our aide-mémoire FonOff pointed out UK had no connection tribal incidents on Iraq-Saudi frontier or Iraq Govt’s Fertile Crescent plans and UK had never acknowledged Saudi sovereignty or claim to Buraimi, part of which belonged to Abu Dhabi and part to Muscat. Explained had been natural improvement in relations between Iraq and Persian Gulf states resulting from expansion in wealth and development there but closer relations in no [Page 2467] way damaging to Saudis. In this connection FonOff mentioned it had estab in Mar 1952 loose council of Trucial States to discuss mutual problems but that council without admin functions and FonOff was not contemplating federation of states. With above in mind, FonOff agreed that altho no justification for Saudis fears, mere fact the fears existed was important factor to be considered in improvement Anglo-Saudi relations. It was with this in mind that FonOff sent personal msg to Ibn Saud from Eden (Embtel 5099 May 8). FonOff promised us copy.

On boundary question FonOff agreed that settlement wld contribute greatly to improvement Anglo-Saudi relations and thought it wld be better henceforth to carry on negots thru diplomatic channels in Jidda where less public atmosphere might have salutary effect on course negots. They thought it would not be possible resume in any event before fall for reasons stated Embtel 4871 Apr 26.5

We pointed out possibility Saudis refusing talk thru dipl channels in view importance they attach to Sheikh’s participation. FonOff emphasized UK responsible conduct of Trucial Sheikh’s FonOff.

On possibility for compromise FonOff was pessimistic. They maintained that despite UK’s offers of generous concessions in past, especially between 1935 and 1938, only result had been increased demands by Saudis with no evidence of reciprocal moderation or compromise. In answer to specific suggestions FonOff answered as fols:

On possibility making separate settlement of Qatar boundary first as it provided least trouble, FonOff explained that as it maintained Abu Dhabi and Qatar borders were contiguous, wld be difficult settle Qatar frontier without prejudicing that of Abu Dhabi.
On possibility of taking advantage declaration which Sheikh of Qatar made to Ibn Saud at beginning of the Amman [Damman] conf (Jidda’s 402 Feb 36)FonOff thought such an act wld be recd by King not as gesture of friendship by equals but as admission of weakness . . . .
On division of Manasir tribal area FonOff maintained same position as in Embtel 4449 Apr 4.7
They doubted feasibility estab new neutral zones in disputed areas since this wld merely postpone solution of issues involved and lead same complications with respect oil co’s as Kuwait now faces.

Of possible ways out of present impasse, FonOff thought joint factfinding comm was unsatis in that mere presence of Saudi members wld intimidate people from whom facts were gathered. A better system, tho still far from ideal, wld be for independent investigating comm but even that shld not be tried until further efforts made in negots. While arbitration not excluded, they agreed better to continue try settle by negots.

We gained impression from discussions that Brit sincerely anxious for settlement but were somewhat stumped re course of action to take in view of what they continue consider Saudis’ intransigent attitude. Our effort thruout conv was to continue to try to stimulate FonOff to come up with some new ideas. Results were disappointingly meager on boundary problem but we feel there may be greater understanding necessity for paying greater attn over-all relations. As indication, we understand FonOff has invited Abdullah Reisal [ Faisal ] to visit UK as official guest HMG enroute US and that invitation accepted.

  1. Repeated to Jidda.
  2. Not printed; it advised the Department of State that a message from Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was being presented to King Ibn Saud. The message was intended to reassure the King of friendly British feelings toward him and his government and emphasize the value of the United Kingdom placed on his friendship. (641.86A/5–852) A copy of Eden’s message was transmitted to the Department as enclosure 3 to despatch 5481 from London, May 16, not printed. (641.86A/5–1652)
  3. Supra . A copy of this aide-mémoire was transmitted to the Department as enclosure 1 to despatch 5481. (641.86A/5–1652)
  4. A copy of the British aide-mémoire was transmitted to the Department as enclosure 2 to despatch 5481. (641.86A/5–1652)
  5. Telegram 4871 from London, Apr. 26, reported that officials of the Foreign Office saw little prospect of reconvening the boundary negotiations before October. Prince Faisal was going to be in Europe and the Foreign Office maintained that experience had shown dealing with lesser officials to be unsatisfactory. In addition, the summer heat could impede progress because of its effect on the tempers of the negotiators. (641.86A/4–2652)
  6. Not printed, but see footnote 4, Document 1469.
  7. Supra .