780.022/10–1153

No. 1535
Memorandum of Conversation, Prepared in the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

secret

Participants:

  • Prince Feisal, Saudi Foreign Minister
  • J. Jefferson Jones, III, Chargé d’Affaires a.i.
  • Clifford R. Nelson, Second Secretary
  • Mohammed Massoud, Embassy’s Arab Consultant

Subject:

  • Buraimi Dispute

In view of Prince Feisal’s oblique reference to lack of support by Saudi Arabia’s friends on the Buraimi issue, Mr. Jones attempted to reassure him with respect to the efforts of the United States to assist in bringing about a solution of the Buraimi dispute. Mr. Jones said that the United States Government was in constant touch with the British Government on the question and that one of the reasons for the delay in reaching a solution of the issue was the absence from London of British cabinet ministers.

Prince Feisal replied that absence of important cabinet ministers from London had not prevented the British Government from reaching decisions upon other important international questions.

Prince Feisal then launched into a long dissertation on the Buraimi issue, the most significant points of which were as follows:

(1)
The lack of tangible results of United States efforts to help bring about a solution of the dispute was causing him to have “little doubts” about United States friendship with Saudi Arabia. Although he appreciated that the situation was a difficult one and that the United States was attempting to contribute to a mutually satisfactory solution, the Saudis still hoped for “deeds rather than words”.
(2)
The Saudi Government as well as Prince Feisal himself was beginning to be embarrassed by lack of United States assistance. The Saudi Arabian people were beginning to ask openly what advantages had accrued to Saudi Arabia from its friendship with the United States. In the light of these questions of the Saudi people, members of His Majesty’s Government were asking Prince Feisal, who was one of the greatest proponents of Saudi-American friendship, what help had been given to Saudi Arabia by the United States during the recent years when a special relationship supposedly existed between the two countries. Prince Feisal said that he was “ashamed and abashed” when friends asked him what assistance [Page 2568]the United States had extended to the Saudi Government. He asked Mr. Jones directly what assistance the United States had given to Saudi Arabia.

(Mr. Jones replied that, in his opinion, the existence of Dhahran Airfield was mutually advantageous to Saudi Arabia and the United States. Moreover, he had understood that the activities of TCA had been beneficial to this country, and that the U.S. military training missions were contributing substantially to the development of the Saudi armed forces. He also believed that material benefits had accrued to Saudi Arabia from the activities in Saudi Arabia of private American companies.)

(3)
The Saudi Government, in its reply despatched that morning to a “most impolite” note from the British, had intimated that it would send no further communications to the British Government on the Buraimi issue.
(4)
Saudi Arabia was considering the advisability of submitting the Buraimi issue to the United Nations.
(5)
Although Saudi Arabia realized that it was not sufficiently strong to harm the British Empire, it could cause some damage to the British. He added that even a goat, if in danger of its life, would use its horns to defend itself.
(6)
The United States should keep in mind that there might be an “explosion without warning” unless there was some improvement in the present situation.

Mr. Jones said, with reference to the last two observations of Prince Feisal, that he hoped that the Foreign Minister would continue to exert his great influence on the side of restraint and moderation. While he realized that the situation was difficult for the Saudis he hoped that they would be patient awhile longer as he was certain that restraint would redound to the benefit of Saudi Arabia and to an increase in Saudi prestige throughout the world.

Mr. Jones also said that he would be glad to transmit the views expressed by Prince Feisal to the Department of State in Washington.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 138 from Jidda, Oct. 11, 1953. Presumably it was prepared by Jones, as he was listed as the reporter on the despatch. (780.022/10–1153)