221. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State 1

729. Faysal-Johnson Correspondence. Following is letter from Crown Prince to President Johnson which was delivered to me January 11 by Saqqaf. Translation moderates where necessary (or clarity some of more flowery examples of Arabic style.

“Your Excellency:

I have received with great pleasure Your Excellency’s letter dated 19 December 1963.2 I appreciate the heaviness of Your Excellency’s responsibilities at the present time following the tragic death of your great predecessor. I also fully appreciate the pleasant gesture represented by your personal interest in the relations between our two countries and your re-examination of the past and study of the future of these relations. I am firmly convinced that the strengthening of understanding between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America is imperative and that frank exchanges of views between them is most desirable.

I in turn emphasize my sincere desire that the frank rapport which existed between the late President John F. Kennedy and myself still continue between Your Excellency and mo. For such rapport would strengthen the friendly ties between us and be the means raising the relations between our two countries to new heights.

I share with Your Excellency the conviction that the relations between our two countries and peoples have not been confined to the mere utterance of words. These relations have often manifested themselves in deeds, facts and achievements which have filled the long history o( relations between our countries—that history whose foundations were laid by his majesty, the late King ‘Abd al-A/iz and the late Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy; it is a history which continues to the present.

Your Excellency’s assurances that your only purpose in regard to Yemen3 is to protect Saudi Arabia’s integrity have given me great [Page 425]satisfaction. For my part I should like to explain very frankly (hat the guarantee of the safety of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the single matter which dominates our thinking in these difficult circumstances. Without that safety we would not be able to devote all our efforts to attaining happiness for our people and to leading them in the path of progress that they might assume their place in the march of civilization and might attain the stature merited by their country’s time-honored significance as the recipient of divine inspiration and the fountain of light.

We fully realize that the present course followed by the UAR is benefiting no-one, and that the UAR is losing much after it caused, by its persistent acts of interference, numerous calamities and mishaps which have resulted in havoc being wrought upon thousands of the Yemeni people and in the devastation of their means of subsistence. It is our conviction that all these calamities have had no justification save the desire to satisfy deeply rooted arrogance and conceit.

I hope that Your Excellency will permit me to explain why I find it difficult to understand the viewpoint which holds that cutting off aid to the UAR would push it more dangerously in the direction of the Soviet Union. I have never been, nor will I at any time be, against the people of sister Egypt receiving aid from any quarter which wishes to offer it. But I am certain that Your Excellency discerns, as I do, the clear distinction between directing those aids towards their intended goal, namely the raising of the standard of living of the Egyptian people and directing it, indeed dedicating it. to the service of aggression and the imposing of calamities on others. As a country which loves peace and justice and always desires to spread them as widely as possible, we have exerted our maximum effort towards support of the United Nations. There is no greater proof of this than our favorable response to the mediation of your late predecessor manifested in our signing of the disengagement agreement. Your Excellency, of course, knows that I acceded to the agreement only after long discussions with your predecessor’s representative. Ambassador Bunker, and with your Ambassador, Mr. Hart. Those discussions embodied clear assurances that the United States of America would work for the implementation of this agreement in letter and spirit. It had never occurred to me that six months after the signing of the agreement, and eight months after we cut off aid to the Royalists, the situation in the Yemen would remain without any change worth mentioning. Neither did it occur to me to agree to the renewal of the agreement beyond the fourth of November last without there being conditions therein to terminate the Egyptian presence in the Yemen within a specific period or without its including the necessary guarantees for accomplishing that termination. The greater part of the people of sister Yemen are undergoing ordeals and [Page 426]great suffering while being denied even the means of subsistence. They are appealing to humanity at large to help remove aggression from their home. Indeed, they look up to Your Excellency’s efforts filled with prayer and hope that peace and safety will quickly return to their country.

We do not err when we consider that the only solution which is compatible with logic, justice and international law is lo leave the Yemenis to decide for themselves the fate of their country in an atmosphere assuring them of all the necessary guarantees of their freedom to do so without external intrusions and in the absence from the country of any foreign forces. Yet, in memory of your great predecessor and confident in Your Excellency’s efforts, and in order to prove our good intentions, we have agreed to extend the validity of the disengagement agreement for two months starting from the fifth of January.

I have benefited greatly from the spirit of candor and friendship which Your Excellency has inaugurated. The sure confidence which I have in Your Excellency’s good intentions makes it incumbent upon me to cooperate with you truthfully and honorably, deeply believing in your personal friendship and support as well as the support of the friendly American people.

I express to Your Excellency my sincere good wishes and the good wishes of the Saudi people for your happiness and prosperity and that of the American people. I further wish Your Excellency every success.

Sincerely, /s/ Faysal

January 5, 1965”

Comment: Saqqaf stated he drafted this message and that Faysal made no changes whatever in text. (Sabbagh however is convinced this arable is above Saqqaf’s style and probably a staff job under Saqqaf’s supervision) Remarks on significance this letter follow in separate message.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL SAUD-US. Secret; Priority; Limidis. No time of transmission is on the telegram. Repeated to Dhahran. Received on January 13 at 5:37 a.m. Passed to the White House at 10:15 a.m.
  2. President Johnson’s letter is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1463, vol XVIII Document 389.
  3. See Document 319 ff.
  4. Not further identified.