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

38. US and UK have completed series discussions begun at Bermuda relating problems affecting access Middle East petroleum supplies.2 Among problems considered were UK-Saudi differences [Page 497] over Buraimi and frontier. UK not prepared alter position re Buraimi although willing resume talks with Saudis. UK however agreed suggestion that direct Saud-Muscat contacts be encouraged at appropriate time with view establishing friendly relationship and paving way for settlement any outstanding issues. UK would not commit Muscat or Abu Dhabi to discuss Buraimi. US prepared at time deemed appropriate approach Saud re these contacts. Present time however in view pilgrimage and Aqaba problem may not be propitious. In meantime, without discussing matter with SAG or Sultan, Jidda’s comment re possible Saudi reaction, Dhahran’s re Sultan’s requested London review with FonOff, point out Jidda’s and Dhahran’s comments also being requested [sic].

Department has in mind approach to King making following points (UK presumably would make appropriate approach Sultan):

We have noted with gratification progress made in strengthening relations between Saudi Arabia and neighboring Arab states. We believe this development has had most beneficial effect on stability and security of area. Wisdom and initiative of His Majesty in this connection have thus brought great advantage to entire Near East.
As His Majesty knows, US continues concerned at lack of resolution of problems existing between local rulers represented by UK and Saudi Arabia in southeastern portion Peninsula. US has been discussing this problem with UK. Latter has indicated its willingness resume discussions with Saudi Arabia at any time.
In absence direct UK-Saudi talks these issues but in anticipation ultimate resumption, consideration might be given to possibility of direct discussions between King and Sultan Muscat in interest establishment mutual confidence and facilitation settlement common problems.
We venture suggest that such discussions would be desirable further step in process strengthening Saudi relations with Arab neighbors. We have in mind these might be brought about initially by meetings between envoys to be followed ultimately by meeting between King and Sultan.
US would not presume suggest in what way meetings should take place nor to indicate what specific topics might be discussed during proposed meeting.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 686.86a/7–957. Secret. Drafted by Newsom and approved by Rountree. Sent also to Dhahran and London.
  2. Between June 12 and 14, Department of State representatives, led by Loy Henderson, met with Foreign Office officials in London to review Middle East problems relating to the supply of oil. Among the measures which the British and American representatives agreed would ensure the continued access to Middle East oil reserves, was the settlement of disputes between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia and the re-establishment of contact between the two governments, leading to the resumption of diplomatic relations.