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I suggest, therefore, that I be authorized to submit a reply merely explaining that despite the earnest and sympathetic consideration given this matter by the President and high-ranking officers of the American Government it has been found impossible to formulate a plan within the framework of existing financial legislation and policy by which the American Government can at this time give financial assistance to the Government of Saudi Arabia. It would be added, however, that the American Government fully realizes the adverse effect caused in Saudi Arabia by the existing international situation and that under the circumstances the American Government in expressing its regret in not being able to accede to the present request of the Saudi Arabian Government desires to give assurance of its willingness and disposition to cooperate with the Saudi Arabian Government in any way possible within the framework of existing laws and regulations. In this way it would appear that the sensibilities of the Saudi Arabian Government would be spared insofar as possible and the record would not be clouded if and when it should be decided that it is worthwhile for the American Government to manifest interest in Saudi Arabia in the only way which apparently its Government wishes and understands.
890F.51/30 : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)
WASHINGTON, September 10, 1941–9 p.m. 453. Your 1260, August 30, 4 p. m. The decision not to grant a credit to Saudi Arabia was based on the actual merits of the case and notwithstanding the hope expressed by the British that such a credit would be made by this Government. It was the considered view of the President that financial assistance to Saudi Arabia would take us too far afield and that the British have more reason than ourselves to look after its financial needs.
The reply suggested by the Legation would not give the real reason underlying the decision and would therefore be lacking in frankness. Moreover, it does not seem convincing. The Saudi Arabians would perhaps feel, with some reason, that we could place the matter inside our framework of legislation or policy if we felt it necessary or strongly desired to do so. The Legation's suggested reply is brief and might be considered curt, particularly by Arabs.
It would be undesirable to convey an impression that a subsequent request for financial assistance, in existing circumstances, would result more favorably than the present request.
There is no objection to the Legation's final formula relating to the possibility of other requests not along strictly financial lines, but it appears to be somewhat more restrictive than the one proposed by the Department.
We doubt whether an interpretation such as mentioned in your numbered paragraph 1 is justified by the language used in the first two paragraphs of our draft, which is intended to be a polite statement of the decision and of the reasons underlying it and means exactly and no more than what it says.
As regards paragraph 3 of our draft, Saudi Arabia certainly cannot be criticized for not fighting so long as it is unattacked. On the other hand, the Saudi Arabians should not find it difficult to realize that our aid must be concentrated upon those countries which have been attacked and are actually fighting, and upon non-belligerents which are geographically important to us for reasons of national defense. The fact that Saudi Arabia is of more political and strategic importance to the British Empire than to this country has long been understood by the Saudi Arabians, and was perhaps the main consideration in the granting of oil concessions to an American company.
You are authorized to draft and forward what you consider a suitable reply to the Saudi Arabian Government, but, in the formulation of the response, consideration should be given to the foregoing remarks which are advisory in character and are transmitted in the thought that they may prove helpful. Telegraph text of reply when made.
890F.51/39 : Telegram
The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
CAIRO, September 23, 1941—1 p.m.
[Received September 248:23 a. m.] 1454. Department's 453, September 10, 9 a. m. [p. m.]. In view of the directives given in Department's telegram under reference I have addressed a reply to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia drafted as closely along the lines of the Department's 399, August 22, 8 p. m., as safeguarding of the codes permitted.
890F.515/11 Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Chief
of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)
[WASHINGTON,] September 26, 1941. MR. MURRAY: Please let me have your judgment as to the desirability of my attempting to make a further effort towards obtaining credits
for the Government of Saudi Arabia. I understand that Jesse Jones has finally and definitely refused to agree to enter into any arrangement with the British whereunder the British would undertake such financing as at the request of this Government.
890F.515/13 Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)
[WASHINGTON,] September 27, 1941. MR. WELLES: In reply to your memorandum of September 26 to Mr. Murray, who is on leave, I may say that by a memorandum of August 6 from Mr. Jesse Jones to the Secretary, we were informed of the President's disinclination to afford financial assistance to Saudi Arabia. Mr. Jones' memorandum is attached, 33a and you may wish to read the President's brief communication on the subject to Mr. Jones which is quoted on page two thereof.
It is not clear from Mr. Jones' memorandum whether the President was informed of the fact that we received a formal request for financial assistance from the Saudi Arabian Government, as distinct from the suggestions of the oil companies and the British. The record shows that this fact was communicated to Mr. Jones by Mr. Berle on July 3.
It would appear, in any case, that if the matter is reopened it will be necessary to take it up with the President.
The Legation at Cairo has been informed of the adverse decision in the matter and recently communicated it to the Saudi Arabians.
You will doubtless recall that on September 26 we sent a telegraphic instruction to Cairo 34 designed to lessen King Ibn Saud's disappointment and to overcome any feeling he may have that we are abandoning him completely, by informing him, when Minister Kirk visits Jidda, that we would be glad to look into the possibility of sending the King an agricultural mission 35 should the idea of such a mission be agreeable to him. In view of Ibn Saud's known anxiety to settle his nomads on the land and to discover and develop the water and agricultural resources of Saudi Arabia, we have every reason to believe that a mission of suitable government experts would please him highly
We feel strongly that to produce the best results, such a mission should be offered to Ibn Saud without any “ifs” and “buts”. However, a request for the money would apparently have to be made through the Bureau of the Budget, from the President's Emergency Fund. We can, of course, present a stronger case if Ibn Saud's wishes in the matter are first ascertained.
33a Ante, p. 642.
For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 651 ff.
In view of Ibn Saud's importance and influence in the critical Middle Eastern area, it would be most regrettable if we should let him down completely. The cost of the official mission contemplated would be moderate and would assist him in a field in which our experts are particularly well qualified and in which British assistance, even if available, would probably be inacceptable to Ibn Saud.
PAUL H. ALLING
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division
of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)
[WASHINGTON,] November 4, 1941. Mr. Hayter 36 said that, in response to a question which I had raised with him a few days ago, he now had telegraphic advice from London concerning the payments being made to Ibn Saud by the British Government. Mr. Hayter stated that the British Government had made all the payments due for the year 1941. He said that we were aware from previous discussions with Mr. Nevile Butler what these payments were. Ibn Saud had, however, appealed for additional aid for the year 1942, and consideration was now being given to what assistance might be accorded to him.
REQUESTS BY SAUDI ARABIA FOR A LOAN OF ROAD ENGINEERS AND FOR A MISSION OF AGRICULTURAL AND IRRIGATION EXPERTS FROM THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
890F.154A/1 Mr. K. S. Twitchell 37 to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern
New YORK, November 12, 1940.
[Received November 13.] DEAR MR. MURRAY: I wish to confirm our conversation regarding the verbal request to me of His Majesty King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud asking if it would be possible for our Government to loan him the services of competent road engineers.
King Ibn Saud would like to know also the conditions of salary and payments required.
80 W. G. Hayter, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
Consultant for the American Smelting and Refining Co., which had a minority interest in the Saudi Arabian Mining Syndicate, and informal representative in the United States for King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia.
I had the pleasure of meeting Thos. MacDonald, Commissioner of Public Roads Administration, 515 14th St., N. W. Washington, and discussed this matter with him. He said that he had engineers available. For the proposed expedition a resident engineer at a salary of $500. per month and all expenses with an assistant engineer at $350. to $400. and all expenses would be visualized. Salary payments would be required to be made monthly in a U. S. A. bank.
Mr. MacDonald said that above arrangements could be made but only if the State Department so requested.
The work proposed and desired by King Ibn Saud is the construction of a road over which 10-ton trucks can travel from Jizan to Abha, and from Abha to Nejran, Asir. This spring I made trips in which I found practicable routes for these roads. The length of the route from the seaport Jizan to Abha, Elevation 7,000 ft., is 175 miles (283 kilometers), but the precipitous mountain section is only 2850 ft. vertical distance.
The route from Abha, Elevation 7,000 ft., to Nejran, Elevation 4300 ft., is 196 miles (317 kilometers).
As soon as the war is over His Majesty wishes these roads to be constructed. He would have American road building equipment purchased similar to some I have already bought on behalf of his Government.
I shall be glad to give all details I possess when you or Mr. MacDonald may so desire.
I know that His Majesty will very greatly appreciate all you may be able to do and I shall be very glad to forward your communications to him. Yours sincerely,
K. S. TWITCHELL
890 F. 154A/1
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)
WASHINGTON, November 15, 1940. The Secretary of State transmits copies of correspondence exchanged between the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs and Mr. K. S. Twitchell, of 3 Handy Court, Burlington, Vermont, who has recently returned to this country from Saudi Arabia.
The American Minister is requested to inform the Saudi Arabian Government through the appropriate channel that his Government will be pleased to cooperate with the Saudi Arabian Government with a view to facilitating the obtainment of the services of American road engineers when they may be desired.