341. Editorial Note

Assistant Secretary Rountree spoke again with the representative of King Saud, Azzam Pasha, on June 17 concerning the Gulf of Aqaba. In addition to reiterating previous points made by the Saudi Arabian Government concerning Israel’s presence in the Gulf, Azzam conveyed word from King Saud that if doubt existed as to the presence or movement of Israeli warships in the Gulf, he was prepared to accept a U.S. or UNEF investigation of the matter, and that Saudi Arabia would not consider going to the International Court of Justice before a return to the status quo existing prior to recent hostilities. Azzam also presented his personal view that King Saud was awaiting American advice before making a decision on whether to take the matter to the Security Council. Azzam noted that Saud had been advised that such a move might produce problems for Saudi Arabia. Rountree and other American officials present reconfirmed the previously-stated U.S. position that the legal character of the Gulf had existed for some time and that recent hostilities had not altered its status. (Memorandum of conversation by Newsom, June 17; Department of State, Central Files, 980.74/6–1757)

On June 18 at the Secretary’s Staff Meeting, Rountree reported the conclusion of talks with Azzam Pasha and observed that the Saudis evidently did not intend to take the Gulf of Aqaba question to the Security Council or to the International Court of Justice. He also noted that the Saudis sought a modus vivendi which would exclude from the Gulf of Aqaba Israeli strategic cargoes destined for Eilath, including petroleum, and the absolute exclusion of all Israeli warships. Rountree expressed his doubt whether Israel would accept any limitation on its commercial shipping or movement of cargoes, but noted that Israel might be more flexible concerning the movement of warships. (Tentative Notes, June 18; ibid., Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)