348. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Kuwait and the Persian Gulf Area


  • UK
    • Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd
    • Admiral Denny, NATO Standing Group
    • Marshal of the RAF Dickson
    • Sir William Hayter, Foreign Office
    • Lord Hood, British Chargé d’Affaires
    • Mr. Roger Jackling, British Embassy
    • Mr. Willie Morris, British Embassy
    • Mr. Denis Laskey, Private Secretary to FM
    • Mr. Donald Logan, Foreign Office
  • US
    • Secretary of State
    • Secretary of Defense
    • General Nathan Twining
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • General W. Wisenand
    • Under Secretary Herter
    • C—Mr. Frederick Reinhardt
    • NEA—Mr. William M. Rountree
    • EUR—Mr. C. Burke Elbrick
    • IO—Mr. Francis Wilcox
    • NE—Mr. Stuart Rockwell
    • NE—Mr. David Newsom

Mr. Lloyd said he wished to come to an understanding with the United States on the situation in Kuwait. He pointed out that, at the moment, the ruling family appeared to be in control and there was an adequate security force. The events in Iraq had happened very quickly,1 however, and the U.K. had never imagined that all three of the principal figures in Iraqi political life would be killed at the same time. It was even more necessary now to consider what was to be done to prevent a similar occurrence in Kuwait. It would not be impossible, he said, for the Ruler to abdicate, for Abdullah Mubarak to be killed and for Shaikh Fahad to become the Ruler after which he might seek to join the UAR.

Mr. Logan outlined the treaty relationship which made the United Kingdom responsible for Kuwait’s foreign affairs. Mr. Allen Dulles confirmed that the United States was also apprehensive of the situation in Kuwait.

Mr. Lloyd commented that the situation in Iraq would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on Kuwait. He added that the attitude of the Ruler2 was one of cynicism toward the course of events and it was not impossible that he might voluntarily abdicate. In response to a question [Page 777] from Mr. Allen Dulles Mr. Lloyd said that while it might be possible to block the bank accounts of the Ruler of Kuwait in London this would seriously jeopardize the good standing of British banking.

[4 paragraphs (17-½ lines of source text) not declassified]

Secretary Dulles conjectured that a viable arrangement with the new group in Baghdad might be possible but there was a serious question about the nature and dependability of arrangements worked out with them. The success of such arrangements, he said, depends to a considerable extent on possible alternatives. If the whole oil area was under the control of the UAR their bargaining position would be too great with a resultant adverse effect on the economy of Western Europe and the rest of the world. There were no adequate alternatives elsewhere. It would seem to him, he said, that the British legal position with respect to Kuwait and Kuwait’s own geographic position made it both possible and desirable to hold it.

Mr. Lloyd added that on the basis of the Suez experience Western Europe could probably manage without the Suez Canal.

The Secretary added that he believed it would be foolish for the U.S. and the U.K. to move into Lebanon and Jordan and not plan at the same time to hold other areas of greater intrinsic value. There was nothing in Lebanon and Jordan, he said, of significant value to either the U.S. or the U.K. The U.S. operation in Lebanon was not done with the hope of salvaging a position but was done to show other nations of Asia and Africa that the United States is prepared to respond to appeals from its friends. It was done to save the honor and reputation of the United States. He reiterated that the U.S. and the U.K. should agree in principle on the holding of Kuwait and the Dhahran area.

[2 paragraphs (9-½ lines of source text not declassified]

The Secretary said that he did not believe Nasser would stop until he was actually stopped. The Secretary said the U.S. and the U.K. would be deluding themselves if they believed Nasser would be content with taking over Iraq without also taking over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. He questioned whether it would be desirable to wait in Kuwait for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq. It may, he said, be more tolerable to move now before the sympathizers with the UAR have consolidated their position.

It was agreed that there would be a joint working group to examine immediately the military and political problems posed by the situation in Kuwait. Secretary Dulles said he felt that it should be possible to consider this matter within a week’s time. Mr. Lloyd said he would consider [Page 778] suggestions as to where this consultation should take place and give the Secretary his views the next day.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786D.00/7–1758. Drafted by Newsom. Lloyd was in Washington for consultations on the Middle East crises July 16–19.
  2. For documentation on the Iraqi coup of July 14, see Documents 109 ff.
  3. Shaikh Abdullah ibn Salim Al Sabah.
  4. Lloyd and his British colleagues met again with Dulles and his group on July 18 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss Iraq (see Document 123). After Secretary Dulles and others left the meeting, Lloyd informed the remaining Americans—Reinhardt, Twining, Elbrick, and Newsom that the British had received assurances from the Acting Ruler of Kuwait that the situation was under control and that he would not hesitate to ask for British help if it was needed, [text not declassified] (Department of State, Central Files, 786D.5/7–1858)