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

262448. 1. Following FYI and based on uncleared memcon, Noforn and subject to change on review:

2. Saudi Minstate for FonAffs Saqqaf called on Secretary Rusk October 25. Saudi Charge Faki and Asst Sec Hart also present. Secretary began by remarking US now going through turbulent election period but elections would have no effect on US-Saudi relations. Saqqaf said he pleased to hear this but stressed that USG should not rely too much on Saudi Arabia. US and Saudi Arabia had had long history of close relations but US must take into consideration that these relations could be shaken by “something or other.” To Secretary’s comment that both sides would lose in that event, Saqqaf responded that if Saudi Arabia loses then whole ME area lost. Communism would spread throughout region. Regimes in radical Arab states are shaky and subject to communist [Page 610]subversion. SAG cannot do much about this itself. However, Saqqaf asserted USG not doing much about it either. He expressed fear USG has lost interest in area.

3. Secretary noted US needed help from countries involved to do anything in region. Reviewing history of events surrounding June 1967 war, Secretary said Nasser had run headlong into USG commitment to maintenance of freedom of navigation through Straits of Tiran. Other Arab actions had been unhelpful to UN efforts arrange cease fire on first day of fighting and to Latin Americans’ later unsuccessful attempt obtain Middle East resolution at extraordinary UNGA. Arabs had later regretted these actions when it was too late. Saqqaf said SAG doing its best to be helpful. Soviet trickery had led to developments which Secretary had just described. Secretary remarked that Syrians and UAR, as well as Soviets, bear great responsibility for what happened. Saqqaf rejoined that Israelis too bear great part of responsibility.

4. Secretary expressed hope that Jarring would successfully accomplish his mission. Saqqaf appeared dubious, remarking that perhaps after US elections Jarring’s task might become easier. Secretary hoped UAR would enter into substantive discussions of ME settlement. USG has been pressing Israel to be flexible on direct negotiations question. Unless there is some movement on both sides Jarring can make no headway. Saqqaf insisted Israel will not withdraw but merely wants keep occupied territory. If Israel really intended to withdraw, it could put forth plan for discussion. Secretary replied that UAR must act to test Israeli intentions. If Nasser had not agitated Tiran issue, there would have been no problem of territorial changes. He emphasized that USG has no interest in change of even one inch of territory in area.

5. Secretary said USG doing its best to help Jarring get to heart of the matter. While some on Arab side skeptical of Israeli territorial motives, he felt this not crucial issue. Latter is Jerusalem. On this USG has its own view, disagreeing with both Israel and Jordan about city’s status. Solution on other territorial aspects is possible. Saying he speaking privately, Secretary thought it possible that some generous arrangement concerning Holy Places could also be worked out. This would lessen area of Jerusalem in dispute. Saqqaf argued there really no sacred Jewish Holy Places in Jerusalem. City is Muslim and Christian. Hart reminded Saqqaf that Arabs in general had long regarded city as sacred to three religions.

6. Conversation terminated at this point due arrival of physician summoned by Secretary to examine Saqqaf, who had become increasingly unwell (septel).

7. Comment: Saqqaf obviously not at his best. Early termination of interview, which lasted less than half hour, prevented discussion of other matters. Tone of meeting was cordial throughout. Saqqaf did not [Page 611]at any time refer to Phantoms but tenor of his opening remarks suggests he had been instructed by King to deliver firm warning that, although SAG continues desire maintain close and friendly relations with US, it might not be able to do so in face of US actions regarded by Arabs as hostile to their basic interests.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL SAUD-US. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Brooks Wrampelmeier (NEA/ARP) on October 25, cleared by Brewer and Davies, and approved by Hart. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Kuwait, London, Tel Aviv, Dhahran, and USUN.