139. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

42979. Subj: USG/Saudi Relations. Ref: Jidda 744; Jidda 763.2

Reftels report King Faisal and MinState FonAffs Saqqaf concerned at what they regard as unwelcome implications for USG/SAG relations of Nixon doctrine enunciated at Guam. While this attitude no doubt reflects increasing disappointment over what they see as unbalanced USG policy on Mid East issue, you may find it helpful draw on following numbered paragraphs in future talks with top SAG officials re basic USG policy in effort combat their current gloom.

Nixon doctrine should not be construed as retreating from long-standing relationships which USG, and, we believe Saudis, have found mutually beneficial. President himself, in his Special Report to Congress of February 18, 1970,3 made this clear in saying:

“As I said at the United Nations, ‘It is not my belief that the way to peace is by giving up our friends or letting down our allies’.” USG remains alert to threat of Communist inroads and will continue participate appropriately in defense and development of its allies and friends. However, we simply not in position to carry entire burden alone.

This new emphasis on partnership and mutual effort is typified by the many joint programs on which we continue cooperate with Saudi Arabia in defense field, both on govt/govt basis and in facilitating [Page 443] private transactions. These include long-standing military training mission and Corps of Engineers activities, recent surveys of Saudi naval and CG/FF requirements, favorable action on selected Saudi arms requests (e.g. artillery), and active SAMP/RAMP programs. Our policies do not preclude further activities of this type to assist Saudi Arabia’s legitimate self-defense.
Five U.S. Administrations of both parties have expressed interest in territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. President on assuming office wrote King Faisal on February 24, 1969,4 that “You may be assured of our continuing understanding and support for the integrity of your country and the prosperity and progress of all its citizens.” These assurances reflect long-standing and continuing USG interest in Saudi Arabia’s well-being and development which we believe clearly in our mutual interest.
In last decade many states, Saudi Arabia included, have achieved rapid development in variety fields, including self-defense. We believe SAG will agree that time is past when major power must be expected intervene directly in every local disturbance, or that any such action would necessarily be helpful to our friends. But this development bespeaks greater capacity and self-reliance on part our friends rather than any lessening of constructive interest by ourselves. Latter most recently illustrated by our willingness undertake major military/economic survey of Saudi defense establishment and assist in expansion Saudi naval force in effort further help SAG develop its own defense capabilities. SAG may be assured we envision no change in our settled policy of support for Saudi Arabia and willingness continue do what we can to counsel and assist our Saudi friends in addressing new defense and development problems.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL SAUD–US. Secret; Exdis. Drafted on March 16 by Brewer; cleared by Davies, Sisco, and Spiers; and approved by Sisco.
  2. Telegram 744 from Jidda, March 1 (ibid., POL 15–1 SAUD); and telegram 763 from Jidda, March 2. (Ibid., DEF 12–5 SAUD)
  3. “First Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy for the 1970s,” Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pp. 115–190.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 127.