Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation, lot 64 D 199, “Secretary’s Memoranda of Converation, January-April 1953”

No. 1503
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan)



  • Call of Prince Faisal, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, on Secretary.


  • Prince Faisal
  • The Secretary
  • Sheikh Asad Al Faqih, Saudi Arabian Ambassador
  • Sheikh Ibrahim Suleiman, Prince Faisal’s Chief of Cabinet
  • Sheikh Ali Alireza, Prince Faisal’s Personal Assistant
  • Mr. John F. Simmons, Chief of Protocol
  • Mr. A. David Fritzlan,NE

Prince Faisal called on the Secretary on March 2 in order to return the call he had made on him in New York last December.2

After complimentary exchanges regarding the Prince’s health (he recently had a checkup at the Mayo Clinic), the Secretary expressed his great satisfaction over the fact that it had been arranged for the Prince to visit the President today, and that this visit was in keeping with the great interest the United States had in the Arab World and of our desire that the spirit of cordiality between ourselves and the Arab nations be restored.

The Prince expressed appreciation of these sentiments and stated that Saudi Arabia had always been friendly toward the United States and he hoped that this friendship would grow under the new administration. He emphasized Saudi Arabia’s need for United States aid and protection.

The Secretary read a proposed White House press release which, subject to the agreement of Prince Faisal and the President, would be released after his call on the President. Prince Faisal expressed complete satisfaction with it.

Prince Faisal stated that he had a number of problems under three headings to discuss with the Secretary, or his associates, as opportunity might present. These were:

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The Security of Saudi Arabia. Feeling itself threatened by possible aggressive designs of its neighbors and realizing its dependence in large measure upon the United States, the Saudi Arabian Government requested assurances from the United States concerning its own security. In response to this President Truman wrote a letter on October 31, 1950, to King Ibn Saud expressing United States interest in the independence and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. It was his hope that the new administration would reassert and emphasize the sentiments expressed by President Truman.
Economic and Military Aid to Saudi Arabia. Prince Faisal complained that, despite numerous promises in the past, no action had been taken by the United States to provide economic and military aid which was needed. It was surprising that the United States should act in such a manner toward one of its best friends.
Boundary Disputes with the British (acting on the behalf of the Sultan of Muscat and the Trucial Coast Sheikhs). He said that until recently the British were regarded as good friends of Saudi Arabia, but that now their feelings were hostile. In particular, since August 1952 the British had endeavored to displace the Saudis from Buraimi concerning which there had never previously been any dispute. He felt the United States should help Saudi Arabia in this matter.

On the above-mentioned points the Secretary stated that:

President Truman’s letter to King Ibn Saud was not familiar to him, but he would look into the matter.
He would also inquire into the question of economic and military aid for Saudi Arabia.
Although he was not entirely familiar with the border disputes with the British, he had understood that the British had proposed international arbitration as a means of resolving this matter. This procedure had been resorted to by the United States in a number of its border disputes with Mexico and Canada, and was accepted by tradition as the best means of settling such matters. He inquired concerning Prince Faisal’s attitude toward this.

Prince Faisal stated that it was true that the British had proposed this procedure after the Saudis had suggested a tripartite plebiscite commission composed of US, UK, and Saudi representatives. While the Saudi Government was generally speaking prepared to accept arbitration to settle the greater part of the boundary between Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbors, it could not agree to apply such procedure to Buraimi which was indisputably Saudi territory.

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The Secretary promised to study the boundary question further and to express his own opinion concerning the procedure best suited to the solution of this problem.4

  1. This memorandum of conversation was prepared on Mar. 3.
  2. For the memorandum of conversation between Prince Faisal and Secretary Acheson, Dec. 2, 1952, see Document 1493.
  3. Attached to the source text was a memorandum, dated Mar. 3, from Jernegan to the Secretary, with a brief summary of the three problems Faisal had brought up at the meeting. A three-page background paper on the Buraimi border dispute was attached to the memorandum, ending with the reasons for the U.S. decision to support arbitration.