173. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron) to President Carter1


  • Letter from Ambassador West

John West has written you a lengthy letter of congratulations following the vote on the aircraft package (Tab A).2 The letter makes the following points:

1. We should now move to persuade the Saudis to increase their oil production capacity over the next decade.

2. Based on his contacts with high Saudi officials during the handling of the issue with the Congress and the public, he is convinced that the Saudis are deeply grateful and consider themselves in your debt for your steadfastness.

3. The Saudi monarchy had committed its full prestige to the sale, and the favorable vote vindicated their pro-Western policy approach.

4. A favorable decision on increased production is made difficult by domestic Saudi support for conservation and by cautious Saudi decisions on oil field maintenance.

5. We should avoid any appearance of an “aircraft-for-oil” deal.

6. Nevertheless, we should begin a dialogue over the next few weeks. He specifically suggests raising the issue in the context of briefings on energy aspects of the Economic Summit, focusing our attention primarily on Yamani and staff level officials, leading to an eventual approach to Fahd.

7. He will discuss this with Jim Schlesinger before departure and has talked it over with Cy Vance. He believes it generally meets with State’s approval.

8. He hopes to be able to say hello to you before he returns to Saudi Arabia on Friday, May 26.

We will staff these suggestions with State and Energy and have recommendations for you later.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 67, Saudi Arabia: 1–5/78. Secret. Sent for information. Carter wrote in the margin in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the memorandum: “I’m not sure how much I want to push the Saudis to increase oil production. J.”
  2. See footnote 2, Document 172. West’s undated letter is attached but not printed.