389. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia0

486. Following is letter from President to be delivered to Faisal in conjunction with instructions to follow:

“December 19, 1963

“Your Royal Highness:

“Since the tragic death of President Kennedy, I have reiterated, as you know, the continuity of United States policies and purposes in every part of the world. In regard to our relations with your country, however, I have gone beyond reiteration to undertake intensive personal re-examination of the past and study of the future—including careful review of the communications exchanged between you and President Kennedy.1

“I share to the fullest the conviction of the late President that understanding between the United States and Saudi Arabia is imperative and that candid exchange of views is most desirable. In that spirit, I am communicating now to express the hope that the beginning of my Administration will mean no interruption in the friendly rapport enjoyed personally between you and President Kennedy.

“United States-Saudi relations have long been outstandingly amiable. Our friendship for your country and your people has not only been professed in words, it has been expressed in deeds again and again. I am determined this pattern shall continue under my Administration.

“From the exchanges I have reviewed, I know your concern for our policy toward Yemen. We have only one purpose in regard to Yemen: to protect Saudi Arabia’s integrity. We believe it essential for Saudi Arabia’s security that direct confrontation with the UAR in Yemen be avoided. You have kept your disengagement agreements. The UAR’s performance has been far less satisfactory. In view of this, I would like to express my views and interests personally.

  • “First: on its present course, the UAR is gaining little, losing much in Yemen. UAR problems are many. Yemen’s drain on UAR resources is great. UAR is not winning popular support among the people. Yemen can well prove to be a trap for those who would seek to dominate it. On [Page 848]the other hand, your course for Saudi Arabia is steadily increasing world stature and respect for yourself and your country. I hope this may continue.
  • “Second: we had earlier concluded cutting off United States aid to the UAR would not hasten UAR withdrawal but would more likely provoke closer UAR ties with the Soviets, contrary to your interest and our own purposes of minimizing Soviet influence in the Arab world. I feel it especially unwise to pursue or even consider this course at this time, as I am sure you will understand. Let me add: I would be concerned that resumption of Saudi aid to Yemeni royalists now most likely would provide Nasser with provocation for resuming bombing attacks, relying even more on Soviet assistance, and attempting to shift to you the burden of responsibility which he now must bear.
  • “Third: we and the United Nations are moving the UAR toward a political compromise and withdrawal. These efforts will be pursued resolutely. I hope no actions are taken frustrating this direction and causing Nasser to commit himself more firmly to remain in Yemen.

“The United States has counseled restraint in the past. Coming into this office now, as I have, I want to renew those same counsels, believing this to be of greatest service to our mutual interests and the interests of world peace. I would not ask this, of course, except in the belief that Saudi Arabia is secure, that events are moving toward an independent Yemen ruled by Yemenis, and the indications which we have that the2 Yemen Arab Republic might take a much stiffer attitude toward the UAR if assured of a friendly attitude on your part.

“I have written frankly, in a spirit of friendship, hoping you will not hesitate to communicate with equal frankness in that same spirit. In the memory of your great father, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, and that of my illustrious predecessors, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, I ask your help in this time when I must assume global responsibilities for the peace and security of free men everywhere. You have my personal friendship and the friendship and support of the United States. I am confident that restraint toward the situation in Yemen will serve the highest interests of both our peoples and foster the climate in which your endeavors to bring a better future to your people will succeed.


Lyndon B. Johnson

Signed letter to follow via pouch.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL SAUD-US. Secret. Drafted by Komer and Seelye; cleared by Davies, Jernegan, Baldwin, and McGeorge Bundy; and approved by Talbot.
  2. Faysal’s most recent letter to Kennedy, dated October 31, was transmitted in telegram 473 from Jidda, November 3. (Ibid., Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 476, Saudi Arabia)
  3. In telegram 660 from Jidda, December 24, Hart recommended that the words "leaders of the" be inserted at this point in the letter to Faysal. (Ibid., Central Files, POL SAUD-US) The Department of State approved the addition in telegram 502 to Jidda, December 25. (Ibid., Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 476, Saudi Arabia)