198. Editorial Note

On August 31, 1973, President Richard Nixon wrote King Faisal of Saudi Arabia following Nixon’s discussions with Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, June 18–26 and July 24–26, respectively. President Nixon reassured King Faisal that the United States regarded a “strong, stable and secure Saudi Arabia” as essential to the “stability of the Arabian Peninsula area” and to U.S. interests in promoting peace in the Middle East. Nixon also wrote that the United States was “interested in cooperating with the oil-producing states of your region to assure a reliable flow of energy to oil-importing countries. We are aware of your concern, first conveyed by Your Majesty’s Petroleum Minister, Shaykh Ahmad Zaki Yamani, that continued tensions in the Middle East could affect Saudi Arabia’s ability to fulfill its unique role in meeting world energy needs. We are also fully aware of Saudi Arabia’s desire to use its growing oil income to diversify its economy and to find productive investments.

“We see Saudi Arabia on the threshold of a period of great economic growth and development and I believe American technical and managerial experience could make a significant contribution to your objectives. It is vital for the stability of Saudi Arabia and of the region that economic progress proceed uninterrupted, and I am pleased that a number of American firms are studying possible joint ventures which [Page 543]would help diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and make use of available energy and other resources. We are giving these companies every appropriate encouragement.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 US)

This letter had been the subject of considerable discussion since May 30 when Eliot submitted an early draft to Kissinger. (Ibid.) Rogers transmitted a second draft to Nixon on July 31, on the grounds that the King should be reassured of American interest in working toward an Arab-Israeli settlement. (Ibid., POL SAUD–US) In an August 7 memorandum to Kissinger, Saunders and Quandt supported the letter, but wanted it to reflect regional issues as part of a revitalization of America’s relationship with the Saudis. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 761, Presidential Correspondence, Saudi Arabia, Faisal, 1972) Scowcroft wrote on the Saunders and Quandt memorandum, “No letter right now. BS.” On August 22, Saunders reiterated to Kissinger the need for a letter to Faisal to reduce his frustration with U.S. foreign policy and perceived “unresponsiveness.” A handwritten notation on this memorandum reads, “8–31 per RTK [Kennedy], Saunders will have State send letter telegraphically—pgd. green will follow. Memo to Pres was revised in SC [NSC].” (Ibid.) The revised memorandum to Nixon, dated September 4, which explains the rationale behind the August 31 letter to King Faisal, is printed as Document 199.