HC Deb 28 July 1954 vol 531 cc467-9
17. Mr. E. Wakefield

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to make a statement about the negotiations with the Saudi Arabian Government regarding the frontier dispute on the Trucial Coast.

Mr. Anthony Eden

Yes, Sir. I am glad to be able to report to the House that we have now reached agreement in principle with the Saudi Government regarding the terms on which the frontier dispute on the Trucial Coast shall be put to arbitration. The Arbitral Tribunal will consist of five members, of whom one will be nominated by Her Majesty's Government acting on behalf of the Sultan of Muscat and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and one by the Saudi Government: these two will then choose three neutrals. This Tribunal will be asked to determine the common frontier between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, and sovereignty over the Buraimi zone.

The Saudi official, Turki, and his party is to be withdrawn to Saudi Arabia, and we on our side shall withdraw the posts which we put out after his appearance in the oasis. Each side will then contribute 15 men to a police group which will be stationed in the oasis to maintain law and order during arbitration.

As for oil operations, the disputed areas are to be divided into two parts, separated by a neutral zone. In the northern part our companies will continue their operations, and in the southern the Arabian American Oil Company will be free to prospect. This, of course, will be without prejudice to the claims of the parties at arbitration.

The arbitration proceedings will take time. But I am sure that the House will share my satisfaction that it is now possible to go forward to a solution of this long dispute, and to the full restoration of our traditionally friendly relations with Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Wakefield

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the war those who, like myself, represented the British Government in the Persian Gulf, received the most generous co-operation from His late Majesty Ibn Saud? Is he further aware of the gratification which all of us who are interested in the restoration of good will between ourselves and the Saudi Arabian Government feel at the announcement that my right hon. Friend has made?

Mr. Stokes

In arriving at these arrangements have steps been taken definitely to see to it that the cost of the oil which will be under British influence will be so adjusted as to conform to the cost of production instead of conforming to the American wish to keep the price up according to the cost of production in their own country?

Mr. Eden

The agreement provides for our oil companies to continue their operations. It also safeguards the interests of the rulers. I do not think we have got beyond that stage at the moment.