780.022/10–1452: Telegram

No. 1485
The Consul General at Dhahran (Bishop) to the Department of State 1


101. From Amb at Dhahran. Left Riyadh last night and proceeding Jidda tomorrow.

On Oct 12 Saudis recd two messages from Riches.2 First referred to Saudi proposals of Oct 10 which Brit summarized as “a complete standstill without prejudice to claims by any party” and stated Brit agreeable in principle. Added Eden understood this to mean no reinforcements to be sent to oasis by either party and added, whereas Eden able ensure Trucial levies would observe this, he could not [Page 2488] immediately give undertaking on behalf Sultan of Muscat but would do best to obtain Sultan’s agreement to standstill and observance of it.

Second message gave assurance of Eden’s “genuine anxiety to achieve an amicable and equitable settlement and hope that Saudi Govt will act at once as though the agreement were in force”. Added, if anything in doubt, Brit Amb returning Jidda Oct 12 and would no doubt seek early opportunity to discuss.

Foregoing given me Oct 12 by Yusuf and Khalid who expressed gratification and hope would lead to sincere negots and not another run-around. They particularly expressed continuing worry re Muscat.3 I stressed necessity at this point of putting acrimony and suspicion aside and fixing attention on constructive statesmanship. Brit had made very significant move and Saudi should reciprocate in same spirit. They expressed agreement.

In final audience with King yesterday he repeatedly expressed his appreciation for what we had done to assist. Said he had been friends with Brit for long time and only wished they could now give evidence of being as well disposed to him as did his new Amer friends. He repeated that he felt much of his trouble had resulted from befriending Americans but said he couldn’t understand why his friendship with US was incompatible with friendship with Brit. King said always wanted deal with us frankly and wanted us always advise him honestly regardless of whether we agreed with him or not.

For moment, therefore, situation much improved here but would, of course, be erroneous assume yet out of the woods. But constructive step has been taken and now it is up to Brit and Saudis rise to occasion by putting standstill honestly into effect and then getting down to real negotiation instead of shadow-boxing.

  1. Repeated to London and Jidda.
  2. See footnote 3, supra .
  3. Telegram 2214 from London, Oct. 15, reported the British Foreign Office was concerned about a telegram received from Riches reporting Saudi Arabia had asked the Sultan of Muscat to disband his forces near Sohar, an area beyond the Buraimi Oasis. The Foreign Office was concerned that Saudi Arabia was attempting to extend the standstill beyond Buraimi to other parts of the area claimed by the Sultan and, while it would try to persuade him to act responsibly, it did not feel it could advise him not to move his troops in territory he claimed outside Buraimi. (780.00/10–1552)