780.022/3–1653

No. 1506
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan)

secret

Subject:

  • Meeting with the Saudi Arabian Ambassador on March 16.

Participants:

  • The Under Secretary
  • The Saudi Arabian Ambassador
  • A. David Fritzlan, NE

General Smith stated that he had promised Prince Faisal on March 4 to make the Department’s views known on certain questions the Prince had raised. He stated he had examined the Buraimi question and it was the Department’s feeling that both sides should continue to adhere strictly to the standstill agreement. The Department had recently queried the British on this subject and had been informed that they still considered the agreement binding and effective. We had stated that we naturally expected them to make every effort to observe it scrupulously. General Smith had looked into the matter of solving the Buraimi problem and felt that impartial arbitration offered the best chances of a successful outcome.

General Smith went on to say that he was very pleased to inform the Ambassador that the President had approved grant military aid for Saudi Arabia;1 and that it was also his pleasure to state that the President, the Secretary of State, and he wished emphatically to reiterate the statements in President Truman’s letter to King Ibn Saud of October 31, 1950, concerning United States interest in the territorial integrity and independence of Saudi Arabia and the fact that any threat to it would be of immediate concern to this country. General Smith concluded his remarks by saying that while the news he had to offer was not all good from the Ambassador’s standpoint, he felt that on the balance it was very satisfactory.

The Ambassador expressed his gratitude for the statements of the Under Secretary concerning grant aid and President Truman’s letter and said he would convey them to Prince Faisal and his Government without delay. On the question of Buraimi he said that the King would not be pleased by the attitude we had taken, but he agreed with General Smith’s further remarks that there seemed to be room for negotiation between the positions taken by the Saudis [Page 2524]and the British. He felt that if some kind of an impartial body could undertake investigation and make recommendations such a procedure might lead to a settlement. The Ambassador drew the Under Secretary’s attention to recent alleged violations of the standstill agreement by the British, and General Smith indicated he was aware of these charges and also charges from the other side. The Ambassador expressed some satisfaction on being told that our information indicated that the British intended to continue to observe the agreement.

The Ambassador inquired if the United States would participate on an investigative body looking into the observance of the standstill agreement and related matters, and the Under Secretary stated that if both sides desired it we might possibly do so. General Smith reiterated his hope that the two sides could agree on a procedure, whether it was arbitration or otherwise, which would contribute to a settlement. He himself believed that such disputes were more readily solved through impartial arbitration which gave full consideration to claims of both parties. He felt that such a procedure would include consultation of the wishes of the inhabitants and could thus embrace to some extent the plebiscite idea.

At the conclusion of his remarks the Ambassador stated that Prince Faisal was planning to visit Washington for several days during the week beginning March 23 and he hoped General Smith would accept an invitation to luncheon from him. The Under Secretary expressed his pleasure at the prospect and the Ambassador stated he would communicate further on the subject.

Prior to taking leave of the Under Secretary the Ambassador stated that at the last monthly meeting of the Arab representatives in Washington considerable concern had been expressed at Senator Taft’s recent pro-Israel public remarks which seemed to them a repetition of the sort of thing Vice President Barkley often engaged in. They hoped that efforts would be made to restrain persons from making statements of this character which went far to counteract the prevailing belief that the United States had embarked on a new policy for the Near East. He said that his colleagues had delegated him to convey these remarks to the Under Secretary.

General Smith took note of the Ambassador’s remarks.

The Ambassador departed appearing generally pleased with the conversation.

After the foregoing conversation Mr. Fritzlan informed the Ambassador that grant military assistance, referred to by General Smith, had been approved for Saudi Arabia for student training purposes.