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

1472. Subject: US-Saudi Cooperation: Prince Fahd Hopes to Visit US in May. Ref: (A) State 45027; (B) Jidda 1192; (C) Jidda 1471.

Summary: During meeting with Ambassador Akins on March 21, Minister of Interior Prince Fahd said that both King Faisal and he were strongly in favor of proposed new US-Saudi economic/technological/military cooperation (ref A). Fahd’s official duties would not permit him to leave Saudi Arabia during April, but in May he hoped to head a team (to include MinPet Yamani, Head of Central Planning Hisham Nazer, and MinState for Finance Aba al-Khail) to Washington to establish form and content of three joint commissions. Because of his concern that such an important project might be marred by premature or controversial leak, Fahd considering whether project could be unveiled soon via simultaneous announcements in Washington and Riyadh. Prince does not plan to brief SAG’s Arab friends until time of announcement or very shortly before. He would like to know if we are going to give advance briefings to our European allies and others. He would welcome a visit by US experts to consider projects under joint commissions after (but not before) his own visit to US. End summary.

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1. During meeting with Minister of Interior Prince Fahd on March 21, Ambassador Akins (who accompanied by DCM) said that upon receiving Secretary Kissinger’s instructions to propose to Saudis formation of joint US-Saudi economic commissions, he had hoped to bring this information to attention of Prince, before discussing it with others in SAG. Because Prince had been unavailable, Ambassador had at Prince’s direction, passed info to Prince Sultan and Royal Advisor Rashad Pharaon. Ambassador assumed they had fully informed Prince about our proposals (ref B).

2. Prince said he had received a written report on joint commissions and extensive oral briefings on them as well. He was happy to express his own gratification at US proposals, and could assure Ambassador King Faisal felt the same. Prince noted political relations between US and Saudi Arabia were excellent and would doubtlessly remain so. He was pleased, however, USG moving to further consolidate these good relations by strengthening economic and military ties between the two governments. Links we suggested could be of great importance to Saudi Arabia’s own development. They would also ensure a more even-handed US attitude toward the Middle East. Americans would see how a just policy toward Arab world was in their own material self-interest.

3. Prince Fahd wanted to move forward on US-Saudi economic commissions as rapidly as possible. It was his and King’s belief that he should travel to United States as head of high-ranking delegation to define scope and content of various projects. Among advisors in Prince’s retinue would be Minister of Petroleum Yamani, Minister for Planning Hisham Nazer, and Minister of State for Finance Mohammed Aba al-Khail.

4. Prince had hoped dates for US visit could be quickly established and that he could leave for US “very soon.” For a number of reasons, however, it now did not appear that he could plan on departing for US before May. Prince said that Arab radicals most displeased with Saudi Arabian position on oil boycott, and therefore security situation re oil facilities might deserve special scrutiny in coming weeks. Prince added there other matters “both great and small” on which King Faisal also wished to have his advice during April.

5. Fahd said that because of great importance and sensitivity SAG attached to US proposals, knowledge of these proposals has been confined to small circle of the highest decision-makers. Prince believed information secure in Saudi hands but added “you can never tell.” He earnestly hoped that such an important and promising initiative would not get off to a bad start by some premature disclosure. Accordingly, for Ambassador’s private information, Prince said he had suggested to King Faisal that he and Ambassador work out simultaneous [Page 378]announcement of joint commissions in US and Riyadh. His visit to US in May would then give added momentum to project.

6. In response to Ambassador’s suggestion that it might be useful for team of US experts to travel to Saudi Arabia to work with Saudi officials for selecting and defining projects, Fahd said he preferred that next visit be by him to US. This would start project off with maximum momentum and visibility; therefore, he would welcome assistance of US experts during a follow-up visit to Saudi Arabia. Fahd said he would in next few days give Ambassador his (and King’s) final views on an early joint announcement.

7. In response to Ambassador’s question whether Saudis would brief their Arab friends in advance of joint announcement about US-Saudi economic commissions, Prince believed—again because of his concern for a tendentious leak—this would not be done. Instead, Saudi Arabia’s Arab friends would receive a briefing simultaneously with announcement, or perhaps a very short time before. Fahd asked if US planned to brief Japan or its European allies about proposals. The Ambassador said he did not know what we wished to do, but if we did wish to brief our allies we would inform the Saudis in advance. He asked that the Saudis inform us if they decided to inform any other Arabs.

8. Comment: Throughout the meeting with Ambassador, Fahd showed the same decisive manner that he had in his immediately preceding remarks about Saudi Arabia’s political future (ref C). If in fact Fahd moves in some manner during month of April to further assert his primacy (after the King) in SAG’s policies, the significance and potential of his visit to US in May could be even greater than envisaged.

9. Action requested: Department’s views on a Fahd visit to US in (early) May, and on a joint announcement to take place soon on US-Saudi project.

Akins
  1. Summary: The Embassy reported on additional conversations with Prince Fahd regarding the implementation of the joint commissions and raised the possibility of a Saudi visit, perhaps by Fahd, to Washington.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 631, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Volume V, January 1–April 1974. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Telegram 1471 from Jidda, March 25, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740063–0462. Telegram 45027 to Jidda and telegram 1192 from Jidda are Documents 104 and 105, respectively.