168. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia 1

478. Embtel 495.2


In view considerations discussed in reftel Department intends express to Defense concurrence in Secretary Talbott’s agreement sell 3 additional B–26 aircraft to SAG. Assuming Defense agrees matter will then be discussed in NEACC where British opposition can be [Page 260] expected (London’s despatch 2949, April 73). Department would probably take line this a reasonable request under reimbursable military assistance agreement which it feels obligated support pointing out delivery these aircraft would bring total to 9 whereas July 1953 Saudi request related to 18. However Department notes from reftel 6 B–26’s and 3 C–47’s now operative will be based temporarily Jidda where “minimal interim maintenance” available.

(FYI: Due unknown condition and status three aircraft Dhahran referred to joint message CD 974 it may be necessary obtain aircraft from other source. Air Force recommends no additional spare part purchase this connection at this time. These points should be clarified with SAG at later stage.)

Department and Defense Department concur your recommendation USAF should not incur responsibility maintenance Saudi aircraft at Dhahran. In replying to SAG you may state limited USAF facilities Dhahran and mission objectives preclude such maintenance and we urge SAG conclude at earliest date maintenance contract with qualified US aviation company adding our desire assist in contacting suitable companies, etc.
Department would appreciate receiving your views what may have been King’s mind when he said there were “many things” in DAF agreement unfulfilled.5 Do you believe his statement relates to contents Hare’s letter June 18, 1951 to Faisal supplementing military assistance agreement same date?6 Department feels would be helpful [Page 261] if you in cooperation with MAAG undertook detailed study this question.
This message cleared with Defense.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786A.5622/4–2355. Secret. Drafted by Fritzlan and approved by Jernegan. Repeated to London and to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Force Europe (CINCUSAFE).
  2. In telegram 495 from Jidda, April 23, Wadsworth, in the course of a discussion of aircraft sales to Saudi Arabia, conveyed the Embassy’s view that “much of ground thus laboriously gained will be lost if USG [does] not support implementation Secretary Talbott’s approval sale of [to] SAG of 3 B–26’s in question.” The Ambassador added that the U.S. position in Saudi Arabia and the renewal of the Dhahran Airfield agreement would depend “in no small measure” on the success of the activities of the Military Assistance Advisory Group. (Ibid.)
  3. In despatch 2949, the Embassy in London reported that the British Foreign Office had expressed concern over U.S. licensing of a considerable quantity of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, including 6 B–26 aircraft, 60 armored cars, and a large quantity of military supplies. (Ibid., 486A.118/4–755)
  4. In this joint message to the Departments of State and Defense, Talbott and Wadsworth reported from Dhahran that the Saudi Arabian Government had requested three additional B–26 aircraft on the same terms on which the 6 B–26’s had been purchased. (COMDR CD 97 (Army Message) from Dhahran, April 18; ibid., 786A.5–MSP/4–1855)
  5. In telegram 495, Wadsworth also reported the King’s remarks concerning the Dhahran Airfield. In telegram 533 from Jidda, May 21, the Ambassador informed the Department that according to Faisal, the King may have had “other considerations in mind” rather than the specific provisions of the Dhahran agreement. (Ibid., 786A.5–MSP/5–2155)
  6. In this letter Raymond A. Hare, Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, had confirmed U.S. intentions to assist Saudi Arabia in the provision of a modest fighter force; provide for an ammunition reserve; provide base workshops; furnish tactical training as well as training in the use of equipment; and make every effort to furnish arms that were new and unused. In the course of the letter Hare noted: “The United States Government has directed serious effort and good will in deciding what it can and will do in meeting the desires of the Saudi Arabian Government and it has not the slightest intention of entering an agreement it does not plan to live up to.” Hare’s letter was transmitted as enclosure 3 to despatch 435 from Jidda, June 28, 1951. (Ibid., 711.56386A/6–2851)