172. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

117. Deptel 77.2 You may now inform SAG request to purchase eighteen M–41 tanks approved under provisions MDA Agreement3 and in accordance with MAAG4 recommendation that tanks required [Page 266] for training.5 It may be fruitful seek audience and first inform King personally. In order prevent any speculation US decision tied to Soviet arms offer, you may wish to stress delayed decision has been due to many considerations involved in supplying heavy military equipment Middle East. You may state approval this shipment urged successfully in view long special US Saudi relations.

Information re availability, time and delivery to follow. NEACC has been informed.

Formal reply Saudi Embassy’s note this subject being withheld until you have informed King.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86A/8–755. Secret. Drafted by Newsom and approved by Hoover. Repeated to Baghdad, Cairo, London, and Tel Aviv, and pouched to Paris.
  2. In telegram 77, August 11, the Department informed the Embassy in Jidda, inter alia, that the Saudi Arabian request for tanks was under “active consideration.” (Ibid.)
  3. On June 16, 1951, Saudi Arabia and the United States concluded a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement (MDA) under the provisions of the Mutual Defense Act of 1949. For text of the accord see United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST), vol. 2 (pt. 2), p. 1460.
  4. Under the terms of a Military Assistance Advisory Group agreement (MAAG), concluded on June 27, 1953, the United States agreed to establish a training mission to assist and advise the Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense and Aviation. For text of the accord see 4 UST (pt. 2) 1482.
  5. On May 4 the Saudi Arabian Government had formally requested authorization to purchase two types of tanks. In a letter dated August 4 to the Secretary of Defense, Dulles supported the request. “We have recently reacquired a certain measure of influence with the Saudi Government”, Dulles concluded, “and making the tanks available will help maintain or even enhance our position in the eyes of the Saudi Government.” (Department of State, Central Files, 786A.5–MSP/8–455)