Foreign oil companies in Kuwait and Neutral Zone p.142

FO 371/168778 1963





June 12, 1963.

I spoke to Sayed Ahmad Sayed Omar, the Assistant
Under-Secretary in charge of Oil Affairs, on June 11, about
the present position on the Neutral Zone boundary negotiations
with Saudi Arabia.

2. He said that he personally and his Department had had
correspondence quite recently with the Saudi Minister for
Oil Affairs, Sayed Ahmad Yamani, who was willing to hold
further talks now, in Riyadh or elsewhere, with Sayed Ahmad and
his Technical Committee (Sayed Ashraf Lutfi and the Legal
Expert Ashmaki) and seemed keen to work for a settlement.
However, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs had now
stepped in, asserting that this was a political matter and
therefore their responsibility, and they insisted on taking
over the conduct of the exchanges with the Saudis, rather
ignoring the Technical Committee.

3. Sayed Ahmad had protested and he told me that although
he realised that this was ultimately a political matter which
would have to be brought to a final conclusion by the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, he considered that the Kuwaitis and Saudis
should be left alone now at the technical level to thrash out
the matter on a factual and technical basis and then report
their recommendations to their respective Governments for them to
conclude a settlement at a political level. Interference now
by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would only upset the technical
exchanges, probably muddle the issues, and would delay the
final outcome. There was now a deadlock between his Department
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and he refused to go along
with them in present circumstances unless given a free hand with
his Committee. The next move now lay with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and he did not know what would happen.

4. He deplored the delay and spoke rather bitterly, pointing
out that oil operations were affected, Aminoil were being
debarred even longer from operating on the islands, and a
settlement with the Saudis became more difficult. If they
could settle this matter now with the Saudis, they would be
able to present a united Kuwaiti-Saudi front to the Iranians
in the sea-bed dispute to their mutual benefit.

J. A. Snellgrove, Esq.,
Arabian Department,
Foreign Office,