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

203063. Subject: Appreciation for Saudi Position at OPEC. Ref: Jidda 5305.2

1. Ambassador should convey in manner he deems most appropriate to His Majesty King Faisal President Ford’s appreciation for the courageous and statesmanlike position taken by Saudi Arabia at the OPEC conference in Vienna.3

2. The President quite understands the point made in His Majesty’s letter of September 11 that other oil exporters are behaving in a less responsible manner, and we have let our views be known both publicly and privately. What is required is continuing understanding that we live in an interdependent world and that the free world will suffer if measures are taken to prevent market forces from determining a fair price for oil. We fear that unless there is a statesmanlike approach on oil prices, the alternative will be a confrontation between consumer and producer countries, given the need for oil to help fuel the world’s economy.

3. The President appreciates the burdens that are now being thrust on Saudi Arabia because of the heavy responsibility it bears for the free world’s economic health.

This is a responsibility, however, which Saudi Arabia derives from the position of leadership which the Kingdom now occupies and from the value it places in the prosperity, well being, and security of the free world.

4. FYI: We are not coming out publicly to pat Saudis on the back because we know they are sensitive to charges of being an American [Page 21] tool on oil policy matters. However, we are quite prepared to do so if Embassy believes Saudis would welcome this.4 End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D740258–1032. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Francois M. Dickman (NEA/ARP); cleared by Atherton, Katz, and Scowcroft; and approved by Kissinger.
  2. Telegram 5305 from Jidda, September 13, transmitted a September 11 letter from Faisal thanking Ford for his August 29 message and commenting: “all of the OPEC states are standing against us with regard to lowering the prices which we have suggested—because they wish them to increase steadily. But after long discussions with Algeria and Iran it has been agreed to freeze the current price for a further period. We ask that you get in touch with your friends from among the OPEC states and particularly Iran and Algeria to support our position with regard to lowering the price.” (Ibid., D740256–0455) For Ford’s August 29 message, see footnote 5, Document 3.
  3. At the 38th OPEC conference, held in Vienna March 16–17, the participants agreed not to raise the price of oil over the next 3-month period. Faisal informed Akins before the meeting that he would instruct Yamani to try to lower prices and “to compromise onlyto the extent of freezing prices.” According to the Ambassador, numerous reportsconfirmed that Yamani “fought hard to carry out his instructions.” (Telegram 5411from Jidda, September 17; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D740260–0255)
  4. Akins responded that Faisal would appreciate public U.S. praise and approaches to other OPEC countries. (Telegram 5411 from Jidda, September 17; ibid.) On September 23, Akins reported that he had delivered to Saqqaf the President’s message to the King, which Akins described as “useful,” but that “more” was “required.” (Telegram 5547 from Jidda; ibid., D740267–0156)