780.022/10–652: Telegram

No. 1481
The Consul General at Dhahran (Bishop) to the Department of State 1


91. From Hare at Riyadh. Arrived here yesterday and received by King2 who launched immediately into discussion Buraimi matter. He appeared deeply concerned by turn events taking there and mentioned number of British instigated incidents contributing tenseness situation (daily low flying flights over Saudi occupied Buraimi, stopping of food supplies to Saudi sector, preventing normal desert travel by demanding passports and visas, arresting of Saudi nationals and other restrictive and intimidating acts). He said tribes getting very restive and he could not control much longer. He had appealed to US for help and received no answer. British were committing acts aggression on his territory and now was time put President’s letter to test.

I attempted put on brakes by observing we had already discussed informally with British and had heard of King’s message to Eden proposing talks on Buraimi and other boundary questions. We also understood British Amb returning soon with new proposals. Why not follow through along that line?

King replied no answer from Eden. Furthermore, matters had gone too far and in any event he couldn’t expect any really sincere proposals from Brit . . . . Only solution was for US intervene and [Page 2481] act as mediator in three power mission with British and Saudis, however, he wld not press further until I had opportunity discuss with his councilors, Yusuf Yassin and Khalid Gargoni.

Three subsequent conversations with councilors yielded little except more details and renewed emphasis on necessity our intervention as mediator on basis President’s letter.

Then, unexpectedly, I was called to see King this afternoon (Oct 5). He said he was “ill” from thinking plight his people, about whom some new reports just in, and he just couldn’t bear it any longer without doing something. Let detailed discussion wait. What he wanted now was relief for his people. It was a case of either our helping or his acting on his own. He was not threatening; he would remain friends with US whatever happened; but further delay was insupportable.

I replied I had no formal instructions from my govt but would personally propose following line action:

I would recommend to my govt that it approach the British and suggest that an end be put to present restrictive and punitive measures in Buraimi on understanding Saudis would also desist from any provocative acts, normal life to be restored.
Both sides would remain for time being in Buraimi and maintain their present positions.
Direct discussions to be resumed between British and Saudis and we would do what we could to facilitate negots behind scenes as we had done before.

Somewhat to my surprise in light his previous insistence on formal mediation, King accepted these suggestions without objection. All he cared for now was relief his people and he would accept anything we proposed re long-term settlement but he must have our answer without delay.

I regard this as unexpectedly good break in a difficult and delicate situation and hope Dept will find possible put foregoing recommendations before British and so advise me immediately since King anxious receive reply before I return Jidda. In any event would appreciate as complete reply as possible by Oct 8 by which time I should have completed work here. Please reply to Dhahran repeating Jidda.

  1. Repeated to London and Jidda.
  2. In telegram 196 from Jidda, Oct. 2, the Ambassador informed the Department of State the King had asked him to come to Riyadh immediately to discuss the Buraimi question, and he asked the Department to advise him as soon as possible. (780.022/10–252) In answer, telegram 166 to Jidda, Oct. 2, advised the Ambassador the Department of State believed the United States should try to hold off Saudi pressure for stronger intercession with the British, at the same time continuing to promote the idea of friendly direct Saudi-British discussion. (780.022/10–252)