284. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1

2684. Subj: USG-SAG Relations.

Toward end four-hour session with Dr. Rashad Pharaoun Jan 6 on various matters reported previous telegrams, Rashad made general observation that SAG regrets what it considers USG’s apparent reluctance cooperate more closely with SAG on matters of mutual interest. If USG attitude were less standoffish, he professed believe SAG could and would be more responsive assisting in matters of specific interest to USG. When I asked him what he had in mind, he spoke generally of USG’s reluctance support SAG in aid to Mali and other African countries; its tepid view Islamic solidarity; its apparent continued reliance on Nasser; its apparent disinterest in Syrian situation; its failure pressure HMG retain its responsibilities in Aden area; its failure recognize Commie threat in Near East in proportions Saudis see it; its policy in Yemen where USG shoring up decrepit, discredited, despotic and puppet government, etc. He added SAG has also had recent reports from Washington and Cairo that USG intends resume concessional food aid to UAR. For SAG, USG policy in NE all rather disheartening.
I told him could not agree that USG attitude toward SAG standoffish. USG has been cooperating closely with SAG on many matters of mutual concern and will continue do so. USG’s interest in security of Saudi Arabia deep and sincere. I recalled had just reiterated to him USG assurances against unprovoked aggression. Earlier in week I had offered MinInt Prince Fahd six training places for police training in US. These and many other past actions attest to USG interest in and high regard for Saudi Arabia.
As for Islamic solidarity, this by definition hardly a subject where USG can be directly involved. I acknowledged we sometimes regret Islamic solidarity is yet another factor contributing to current polarization of Arab world and resultant tensions, but noted USG neither disapproves nor approves of concept. As he knew we have [been] accused by UAR and others of instigating Islamic solidarity but, as he also knew, this charge absolutely baseless.
As for additional FFF Food for UAR, I called his attention to recent Department press officer statement that UAR request still under study and no decision yet reached. However, two things ought be noted: first, contrary widely-held belief in Saudi circles prior termination PL-480 food to UAR, termination has not forced UAR withdraw its troops from Yemen. On contrary, it seems have strengthened UAR’s resolve remain there. Second, termination of food aid to UAR had curtailed still more limited leverage which USG is able use with UAR on area problems, including those of Saudi Arabia. Any such development hardly in USG and SAG’s long-term interests. Moreover, UAR had now been able obtain some wheat from USSR.
In some cases, as in aid to African states, direct cooperation scarcely in SAG’s interest. USG, quite wrongly but as inescapable fact, is unfortunately associated in minds some emergent African states with old colonialist states of UK and France. This not so in case of SAG which in various Muslim areas of Africa appears to have especial appeal. Fact is our respective efforts in Africa and elsewhere complement each other and, as such, are in our mutual interest.
As for our Yemen policy, he well aware USG view as expressed personally by Secretary to King during latter’s state visit in June that we believe highest priority ought to be given to arranging evacuation UAR troops so that Yemeni people can themselves decide. This had to be done by peaceful means since experience of past four years should have proved conclusively military victory not possible for either side. I also recalled King’s only recently applauding to me our determination to stay in YAR, despite all difficulties, in order give Yemenis at least some counterpoise to complete reliance on USSR, ChiCom or UAR aid.
Somewhat tepidly Rashad accepted this, but he obviously far from convinced. He still felt USG should consider channeling some of its aid through SAG which he believed might achieve greater impact. I twitted him that SAG beginning learn what USG has been experiencing since World War II, namely it costs money and much money for any state to pursue an active foreign policy. He laughed and ruefully agreed.
Comment: My impression is that, largely as result its current security frustration, SAG is again in one of its feeling sorry for itself moods. Inevitably whenever in this state of mind, SAG seems to like to believe USG pursuing standoffish policy toward it. SAG also of [Page 543] course feels we are putting intense pressure on it to continue policy of restraint in Yemen, but are not pushing UAR, Kuwait or anyone else commensurately. Report that new FFF program for UAR again contemplated has doubtless added to SAG’s worries. We shall have to continue intensive hand holding operation and seize opportunities where we can feasibly cooperate with SAG if our urgings that SAG continue policy of restraint in Yemen are to be heeded.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POLSAUD-US. Confidential.