219. Memorandum Prepared in the White House Situation Room1


1. Opportunity Knocks in Saudi Arabia: Ambassador West alerts you, Secretary Brown and Deputy Secretary Christopher to what he terms is the political, military and commercial opportunity of the decade in Saudi Arabia—the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) medical/health care project. A U.S. army medical team, which is to return to the U.S. today, has found it feasible and advantageous for the U.S. to supervise operation2 of two newly completed SANG hospitals, construction of 15 health clinics, provision of medical/health care delivery and establishment of a SANG medical/health service. The U.S. role would largely consist of letting and administering the contracts for these activities, under a government-to-government agreement. U.S. contractors are ready and eager to undertake the work, and SANG commander Prince Abdallah favors U.S. direction of the program. However, an October first deadline for the opening of the two hospitals requires that we expeditiously draw up and approve a letter of offer and begin congressional notification within a matter of days. Aside from the $8 billion which will accrue to U.S. sources over the next decade, the project would provide us the means for making an incalculable humanitarian and psychological impact on Saudi society. Another attractive feature is that while the medical/health services program would meet both Saudi and U.S. objectives, it could be done without a cent of U.S. expenditure. West concludes with a plea that this unique opportunity not be forfeited to the various other nations competing [Page 704] for it. The lasting benefits will more than warrant your attention and efforts to expedite insuance of the FMS case.3 (Jidda 4805, PSN 30219) (S)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850112–1436. Secret; Sensitive. Carter initialed the memorandum which summarizes telegram 4805 from Jidda, August 6. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800377–0020) Carter’s other comments are illegible, except for Brzezinski’s first name. Sent to Vance and Brown under cover of an August 7 memorandum from Brzezinski, in which he asked them to “consult on the steps that ought to be taken, and provide a report to the President by some time next week on how we should proceed.”
  2. Carter drew a line in the margin next to this section of the paragraph.
  3. Carter wrote in the left-hand margin: “Expedite this. Keep me informed regularly.” On October 9, West discussed with the SANG Commander, Second Prime Minister Prince Abdallah, a U.S. proposal for providing assistance to the SANG medical/health care project. (Telegram 6202 from Jidda, October 11; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800486–0539) On December 22, the Embassy reported that it had “ascertained” that the SANG staff would “recommend” to Prince Abdallah that the U.S. proposal be “disregarded” as it did not “meet the SANG requirement for a comprehensive government-to-government agreement encompassing all elements of the planned program.” (Telegram 7749 from Jidda, December 22; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800606–0882) At a meeting with Abdallah, December 23, West informed him that he “felt” the U.S. Government “might reconsider and submit a proposal under FMS,” but “that no complete assurance could be given until after the new administration took office on January 20.” (Telegram 7792 from Jidda, December 23; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800609–0038)