No. 1479
Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs



  • The UK-SAG Dispute at Al-Buraimi.


  • Sheikh Asad Al-Faqih, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia
  • NEA—Mr. Byroade
  • NE—Mr. Hart
  • NE—Mr. Sturgill


The Saudi Arabian Ambassador came in at his own request to discuss events which had taken place at Al-Buraimi since his visit to the Department on September 17. He said he had learned just a few minutes earlier that the King had sent another cablegram2 to the Saudi Ambassador in London regarding the detention by the British of a Saudi car and its personnel, who had been sent from Al-Buraimi to Dubai for food. The cable, Sheikh Asad said, instructed the Saudi Ambassador in London to inform Mr. Eden that not only had the car been stopped outside Dubai and then taken to Sharja but also the people in the car had then been sent to Abu Dhabi and placed in jail there. The Ambassador was instructed to inform Mr. Eden that the SAG already had requested the release of its people and was awaiting a reply and that the SAG was willing to sit down and talk about the Al-Buraimi dispute.

Mr. Byroade said he was very glad to hear that the Saudis were willing to talk to the British about the dispute and had taken the matter to Mr. Eden.

He then asked Sheikh Asad to clarify for him whether the King had requested the US to mediate formally or whether the King wanted the US to work informally to bring about agreement between the UK and Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that formal mediation would be public and that if that was what the King wanted, the decision as to whether or not the USG could accept the request [Page 2478] would have to be made at a higher level. Sheikh Asad replied that he would have to request instructions from his Government before he could make a positive reply but that he was almost certain the King wished tthe US to work quietly behind the scenes. He remarked that he and his Government realized that the best way to settle the dispute was to sit down and talk about it. He reiterated that the Saudi Ambassador in London was now awaiting an answer from Mr. Eden on this point, and added that he would appreciate being informed of that answer if the Department learned of it before he did.

Sheikh Asad referred again to the possibility that the Al-Buraimi dispute would be presented to the Security Council, if it could not be settled with the British. He said Prince Feisal would head Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the UN, and that, depending upon the seriousness of the dispute, Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, Deputy Foreign Minister, might come to the US to aid in presenting the case.

Mr. Byroade remarked that he hoped the case would not have to go to the UN. He emphasized to the Ambassador that the Department already had been talking to the British about the dispute and said we would talk to them again. Sheikh Asad thanked him and said he realized that the Department was sometimes in a difficult position to act on these matters but that he and his Government appreciated what was being done.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was prepared on Oct. 1.
  2. The Saudi Arabian Embassy had received a cablegram from the King on Sept. 25 which stated that-British forces had camped within 5 kilometers of Amir Turki’s forces, and two British planes were flying at a low altitude in the area. The Embassy next received a copy of a Sept. 26 cablegram sent by the King to the Saudi Ambassador in London for transmittal to the Foreign Office. It told of an incident in which British armed vehicles stopped a Saudi car and took it to Sharja. (Memoranda of telephone conversations between Muhtasib and Sturgill, Sept. 25 and Sept. 27. (641.86A/9–2552 and 641.86A/9–2752, respectively)