202. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

2645. In Kirkpatrick’s absence, I called on Caccia today and conveyed Secretary’s message on Buraimi (Department telegram 35182). I stressed Secretary’s concern that events may overtake us, adding we understand Saudis may decide take case to SC in near future if efforts reach settlement by other means should fail.3 I referred to pressures being brought to bear on King and added it probable SAG will invoke 1950 declaration made by President Truman to King Ibn Saud.

Caccia asked for text of this declaration, which I gave him. He said HMG could not of course regard Buraimi as part of Saudi territory. He added he would inform Foreign Secretary of my approach but was bound to point out to me that HMG had not been so far inclined agree to resumption of arbitration, which in its view was impossible owing to Saudi behavior. I replied that as I understood it we were not insisting UK agree resume arbitration if there was any other method of peaceful settlement which UK might suggest. Our concern, however, was that if matter got into Security Council, we and British might not find ourselves on same side of [Page 308] question, and this would have harmful effect on entire Western position.

Caccia said that if Saudis should decide bring matter to Security Council, they would have a very unhappy experience because HMG would make public certain documents in its possession which would place Saudi actions in Buraimi area in a most unflattering light. He therefore thought Saudis should think twice before bringing case to SC.

I asked Caccia whether it would not be possible for some completely disinterested group to be set up to settle the dispute. He commented any such group would presumably have [to] conduct a survey on the ground to determine wishes of inhabitants but Saudi corruption and bribery had been so widespread in area that justice would not result from any such survey.

In sum, while Caccia recognized that matter would be discussed with us by Shuckburgh and at Eden meetings with the President, he gave me no reason believe British are at this time disposed to take any initiative looking toward negotiated or arbitrated peaceful settlement. This attitude, which he clearly indicated has the approval of the Cabinet, is based, if I assess his reasoning and Kirkpatrick’s earlier reasoning correctly, on a gamble that Saudis will not take direct action and will be dissuaded from raising case in Security Council by existence damaging documents to which he referred. He was unimpressed by my question as to whether in light prevailing customs and practices in Arabia, Saudi reaction to possibility of use documents might not be one of less apprehension than British anticipate and their value as moral deterrent therefore lessened.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.022/12–2955. Secret. Repeated to Jidda.
  2. Document 200.
  3. On December 24, Wadsworth informed the Department that according to Faisal, unless “encouraging news” was received from the United States, Saudi Arabia would probably bring the Buraimi matter before the Security Council. (Telegram 280 from Jidda; Department of State, Central Files, 786A.11/12–2455)