75. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Consular and Diplomatic Posts0

2138. Following background summary Kuwait situation:

Subsequent to announcement June 19 UK-Kuwait exchange letters which redefines UK-Kuwait relationship and abrogates 1899 Agreement, Iraq Prime Minister dispatched message to Ruler of Kuwait which omitted reference Kuwait independence and raised question legality Kuwait’s existence separate from Iraq. In press conference June 25 Qasim denounced UK-Kuwait relationship and asserted Kuwait part of Iraq since Sheikhdom had been illegally separated in Ottoman times from Province of Basra. Iraqi claim embodied in memorandum circulated to foreign governments.

Reactions to Qasim’s statements have included expression deep concern from Saudi Arabia where Cabinet has met in emergency session and King dispatched Chief of Staff General al-Tassan to Kuwait for consultation with Kuwait leaders. Statement by King Saud affirmed Kuwait and Saudi Arabia “as one country” and he has sent message to other Arab heads state urging support Kuwait’s independence. UAR Minister of State reflected UARG concern in statement June 25 deploring situation that has arisen and upholding principle of Arab unity. In Baghdad idea of Kuwait’s absorption long popular but politically conscious Iraqis and Qasim’s many detractors probably view his posture as risky and perhaps absurd. At same time danger exists he may be committed to choice between eventual resort to force or heavy loss of prestige. Officially Iraqi Foreign Minister has assured us Iraq has no intention using force. In Kuwait, Ruler enjoying full popular support in his professed determination preserve Kuwait’s independence.

In past 24 hours there have been rumors of threatening Iraqi troop movements. While these not confirmed, British now deeply concerned and feel obliged take steps preparatory meeting their obligations to Kuwait. British spokesman has now admitted publicly Britain taking precautionary steps. British vessels and military equipment moving to Persian Gulf area, although British anxious to limit insofar as possible knowledge these movements.

US and UK in close consultation. US continues hope Arab states may play leading role in deterring Iraqis. Both UAR and Saudi Arabia obviously concerned prospect Iraqi absorption Kuwait and possible [Page 175]pre-emption Kuwaiti oil income, now approximately $400 million per annum. Consequently we have requested our Charge Jidda to consult immediately with King Saud and our Charge Cairo seek elucidation GUAR views at high level.1 British Ambassador Baghdad has suggested his Indian, Turk and Pakistani colleagues seek cooperation their governments in despatch of messages to Qasim urging restraint.

For moment Dept suggests addressee posts make no approaches to host governments. Should topic arise in informal discussion you should stress our deep interest in preservation Near Eastern peace, US recognition Kuwait’s sovereignty, our concern with maintaining world wide respect for freedom and independence of small states, and our hope Arab efforts toward restraint of Iraq will be fruitful. You may note also that US and UK governments in close consultation and that US fully sympathetic to UK desire fulfill its responsibilities to Ruler of Kuwait.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786D.022/6–3061. Secret. Drafted by Thacher, cleared by Davis, and approved by Talbot who initialed for Rusk. Sent to Amman, Ankara, Beirut, Bonn, Jidda, Karachi, Khartoum, New Delhi, Paris, Rabat, Rome, Tripoli, Tokyo, Tehran, Tunis, Aden, Damascus, Dhahran, and Nairobi and repeated to Baghdad, Cairo, Kuwait, London, Basra, Colombo, and Monrovia.
  2. The Department sent instructions to the Embassy in Jidda in telegram 478, June 29 (ibid., 786D.00/6–2861), and to the Embassy in Cairo in telegram 2220, June 29 (ibid., 686D.87/6–2961).