175. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1

119. Embtel 72 and despatch 22, August 20.2


Since sending reference despatch have had important conversations August 23 and September 13 with Royal Counselor Gargoni, at his request on instructions King Saud, re Russian proposals exchange diplomatic missions and supply arms Saudi Arabia. Facts were submitted reference despatch. Gargoni gave exposition their significance in field US-Saudi relations and made strong plea for military and economic aid, in brief summary essence as follows:

King’s first desire is maintain US friendship. If US will advance palm’s breadth, he will advance meter. Whatever his decision on proposals, it will not impair US-Saudi relations.

We, Saudi Arabia, will not sign pact with Russia nor rely on Russian guarantee. Our decision re exchange of mission is not yet taken, but as government we see ourselves in same position as US, Britain, Egypt, Turkey who maintain diplomatic relations with Soviets.

Affirmative decision would have important repercussions throughout Arab and Moslem worlds, because of high influence King enjoys. This would benefit Russians and not US.

Re arms offer, we must be realistic. To Arabs Israel is number one danger and enemy. We see US militarizes it to the teeth, offering all types assistance, financial and economic, to strengthen it. You can defend us against Russia, but we must defend selves against Israel. If it lives, we cannot live. We can never have peace with Israel.

If there is possibility US will wish “start new life with us,” benefiting us as other states have benefited, by supplying us with arms so we may better contribute towards area defense, and help us rehabilitate our country and raise living standard, we can postpone answer to Russian offer.

US answers only “you are free do whatever seems to your own interest, US has nothing new to offer,” then we will decide as befits [Page 270] our interests, and US and Saudi Arabia can remain friends. We do not bargain, blackmail, challenge or quibble.

His Majesty would appreciate earliest reply because he is being pressed for answer to Soviet offer. Telegram has just been received from Tehran requesting his decision.


During conversations, memoranda of which will be forwarded next airpouch,3 we had extensive, generally unprofitable discussion US-Saudi relations. Following three points made by me and answered by Gargoni merit mention:

I recalled King had told Soviet Ambassador most important consideration was religion. I believed this would lead him refuse proposals. Gargoni answered it should not be exaggerated; Islam hates Communist principles; King will consult Ulema and act in accord Shariah precepts, but Ulema view with great satisfaction everything which makes Islam strong.

I suggested that, as King had refused grant military aid, terminated Point IV and been highly critical our northern tier policy, first move seemed rather up to him than to us. If he would advance palm’s breadth, perhaps we could advance more than meter. Gargoni answered grant aid agreement would infringe Saudi sovereignty, said we could extend aid without it if we truly wished, revived alleged promises Ambassador Hare, repeated old charge re Truman letter and new line that Saudi Arabia had drawn no benefit from Dhahran airfield agreement.4

I argued Saudi Arabia did not need grant aid. New five-year army plan was within its budgetary capacity. Our ability aid allies and friends was limited; aid must go where most needed and most beneficial common cause. Gargoni answered Saudi Arabia is new country on new road of progress, its people are poor; it needs roads, hospitals, schools, as well as military equipment, in short everything.

Comment: I wonder if Department would like me request audience with King or Prince Faisal (who better understands western mentality) and have polite showdown beginning with expression astonishment Gargoni should have so presented matter to me when His Majesty himself had presented it in such very different form to Shah (see opening paragraphs Tehran Embtel 316 to Department5).

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I would also wish answer contention that Saudi Arabia has drawn no benefit from Dhahran airfield agreement and expose in simplest possible language just what our grant aid policy is today, as well as make such specific reply to King’s query as Department may direct.

For exposition grant aid policy I should also welcome Department’s counsel as to wording.


Since drafting foregoing I have received Deptel 141,6 September 14. In my conversations with Gargoni I used most but not all its argument. It will be most helpful in further discussion.

I shall not however initiate any further action or discussion pending receipt Department comment on Gargoni’s “exposition” Saudi position as summarized above. Such comment should I believe be for communication to King either directly or through Gargoni for Prince Faisal as may seem best at time.

However opening SAGAramco pricing negotiations and before crystalization our position on renewal Dhahran airfield agreement, it may be good policy defer raising clear issue with King if, as seems possible, to do so might precipitate new crisis, emotional or substantive, in Saudi-US relations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.86A/9–1555. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. In telegram 72, August 20, Wadsworth reported the highlights of the King’s audience with Anatoliy Iosifovich Lavrentyev, Soviet Ambassador in Iran, as conveyed by Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister, Yusuf Yasin. According to Yasin, Lavrentyev assured Saud that the Soviet Union would supply Saudi Arabia with any type of arms with or without payment. (Ibid., 661.86A/8–2055) Despatch 22, August 20, transmitted the full text of Wadsworth’s August 18 conversation with Yasin. (Ibid.)
  3. In despatch 31, September 19, Wadsworth transmitted the full text of his conversations with al-Gargoni. (Ibid., 661.86A/9–1955)
  4. This allusion is presumably to President Truman’s October 31, 1950, letter to King Ibn Saud. For full text, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. V, p. 1190.
  5. In telegram 316, August 23, Chapin reported that according to the Shah, Saud was “perfectly willing” to join an anti-Communist defense pact on four conditions: (1) that Israel not become a member; (2) that Israel accept U.N. recommendations on boundaries and aid to refugees; (3) that neither the United States nor Britain interfere in Saudi affairs; and (4) that the United States and Britain give Saudi Arabia military aid. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.00/8–2355)
  6. Supra.