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

268. Embtel 242.2 In view King’s current interest, Department now (Deptel 2183) believes it appropriate send formal acknowledgement Saudi note October 4 on Dhahran Air Base. In your discretion you may reply US willing discuss continuation of agreement and is studying possible modifications which it may also wish propose. Reply should state US appreciates desire SAG undertake conversations promptly and will notify SAG at once as soon as necessary preliminary studies completed by USG.

You may, in your discretion, at same time report verbally to Prince Faisal you have transmitted King’s suggestion regarding possible US role in five–year armed forces development plan to Washington and pertinent Departments USG currently studying plan.

With respect M–41 tanks, payment made and Department has requested expeditious delivery.

[Page 297]

FYI: Department has noted assistance in implementing five–year plan likely be quid pro quo for DAB. Are we to assume from your message you believe Saudis might be willing consider a commitment on our part to provide portion of requirements for five–year program on reimbursable basis as starting point in negotiations. In reply Deptel 218 would appreciate elaboration without discussing matter with SAG of your views on extent to which you expect grant aid may be requested. In view rapid developments telegraph full summary reply Deptel 218.

Department plans send you further message for King prior his return December 12.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86A/11–3055. Secret. Drafted by Newsom and approved by Allen. Pouched to London.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 193.
  3. See footnote 6, Document 188.
  4. King Saud was visiting India. On December 13 Wadsworth transmitted a résumé of Faisal’s reaction to the U.S. note to Saudi Arabia on the Dhahran Airfield. According to the Ambassador, Faisal indicated, inter alia, that the renewal of the agreement would serve no useful purpose unless the United States would agree to assist Saudi Arabia in “building our strength.” Wadsworth noted that Faisal expressed a hatred for Russia and communism. Faisal reportedly added that “what Russia and Bulganin are to America, Israel and BenGurion are to us. We must be strong to meet that threat also.” Faisal concluded by expressing a willingness to reach an agreement on the “new formula”—U.S. use of the airfield for American help in strengthening the Saudi Armed Forces. (Telegram 261 from Jidda; Department of State, Central Files, 711.56386A/12–1355)