786A.00/3–954: Telegram

No. 1546
The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Wadsworth) to the Department of State1

secret
priority

384. 1. Ohliger, AramcoVice President, came from Dhahran yesterday to discuss company’s position re paragraph c, British proposals for frontier arbitration.2

Rentz of Aramco and Saudi legal consultant, Young (see last paragraph my telegram 358 February 203) had been given text British proposals March 3; Ohliger had been summoned Riyadh by King March 5.

He was first asked would Aramco be willing undertake exploration in disputed area if as result Saudi-British discussion that seemed best thing to do. He answered: Yes, but not immediately because some advance planning needed.

He was then asked if Aramco was willing surrender concessionary rights in disputed area (i.e., such, if any, part of it as arbitral commission might allocate to Saudi Arabia. in favor British companies. He answered no . . . .

2. Ohliger wished us know also that Rentz who had returned Riyadh March 7 as Young’s interpreter reported:

(a)
That Saudis had apparently understood Department’s favorable reaction to British proposal (Deptel 246 February 164 and mytel 131 February 19 from Dhahran5) as including support of British effort obtain concession disputed area; and
(b)
That on this substantive issue Saudis’ eventual position would depend in large measure on position taken by Aramco and attitude US Government.

3. In reply, I outlined my Riyadh discussion February 19 (Embtel 358 February 20) and assured him as I now categorically assure Department that while in fact I stated I considered proposals went far [Page 2582]towards meeting Saudi demands whole tenor my remarks was crystal clear that question British desire obtain concession was only “hope”. Shaikh Yusuf, I added, should have clearly understood we did not now “support. any British pretension to oil concession in disputed area.

4. Following this discussion, I gave Ohliger letter in foregoing sense and he gave me memorandum briefing Aramco position. My immediately following telegram gives text.

I quote them in full because Ohliger understands Aramco President Davies and General Counsel Ray (who left Dhahran March 7 and is due New York today. will make early call at Department for full discussion company’s interests.

I have read to Ohliger final paragraph Deptel 253 February 266 and suggest Department consider with Davies advisability its making formal statement same sense to British Government.

As Ohliger is reiterating Aramco position at Riyadh tomorrow and will if it seems desirable show King my letter, I see no need for further action by me here pending Department’s full consideration matter.

Wadsworth
  1. Repeated to Dhahran.
  2. This reference is to the memorandum by the British Foreign Office to the Embassy in the United Kingdom, Document 1543.
  3. Not printed; the Ambassador reported he had met on Feb. 19 with the Saudi Arabian Deputy Foreign Minister. Ambassador to London, and Councilor Gargoni, to receive their preliminary and informal views on the British proposals. The Saudi Arabians said they could not give an official reply to the British until they consulted their legal advisers, and they had requested Young’s immediate return. (786A.00/2–2054)
  4. Supra.
  5. Not printed. the Ambassador reported he would support the British proposals at a meeting with the Acting Foreign Minister that evening. (786A.00/2–1954)
  6. Not printed, but see footnote 2, supra.