250. Briefing Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Veliotes) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Newsom)1


  • US-Saudi Cooperation in North Yemen

Ambassador West, in his July 62 meeting with Prince Sultan and Prince Saud, completed the first round of a series of discussions at the political and military levels with the Saudis on how we might better work together to strengthen North Yemen’s defense capability.3 We believe these discussions have been successful in establishing a general understanding which will permit the US to work with the Saudis in a manner reflecting the guidance of the recent PRC meeting.4

The Commander of our Training Mission in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Director for Assistance and Cooperation, will be travelling to Sana in the next few days to brief the North Yemenis on what we plan to jointly do to move forward the military modernization program. While the scope of our proposed program, which essentially involves accelerated and more effective introduction of already approved and funded equipment, will fall short of meeting Yemeni expectations, it [Page 776] is consistent with what North Yemen’s armed forces can realistically absorb in the coming months. Perhaps more to the point, we believe our proposed action, including US and Saudi air lift to accelerate delivery of artillery and anti-aircraft weapons, will demonstrate in a politically effective manner joint support for the North Yemeni government.

At present we are facing numerous technical problems characteristic of trying to implement a program such as this in a country like North Yemen in cooperation with a government like Saudi Arabia, but no basic policy problems are involved. Down the road we face the question of whether we will be able to accede to the general Saudi desire that we put up at least a token amount of the financing of our participation in training the YAR forces on specific items of equipment, as well as the issue of how to handle inevitable Yemeni requests for additional weapons and equipment. As we proceed the ambivalence in the Saudi attitude toward developing an effective North Yemen military will undoubtedly resurface and complicate our own efforts. For the moment, however, we are launched on asserting a limited but direct US role in North Yemen, related to introducing specific, Saudi-funded equipment in a way which can build the Saudi confidence in our desire to cooperate fully with them while demonstrating to North Yemen that our support is tangible.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780135–0498. Secret. Drafted by Twinam.
  2. Veliotes crossed out the word “July” and substituted the word “August.”
  3. West met with Sultan and Saud in Taif on August 6 and summarized the meeting in telegram 5784 from Jidda, August 7. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780322–1023)
  4. Not further identified.