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Mrs. Roosevelt Clarifies Rumors Surrounding the Roosevelt-ibn Saud Correspondence

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt today revealed what the late President told her about his conversation on Palestine with King Ibn Saud, and emphasized that she considers it “not only unfair but very unwise” to use past utterances to influence new decisions.

The statement, made in her syndicated column, was prompted by Mrs. Roosevelt’s desire to clarify the rumors surrounding the exchange of correspondence between her homeland and the ruler of Saudi Arabia which was made public by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. Pointing out that one “can really never tell what a man who has been a thinker and a leader, in either public or private life, would think or do if he were alive and facing new circumstances,” Mrs. Roosevelt writes:

“I had heard my husband, on a number of occasions after his return from Yalta, give an account of the visit paid him by King Ibn Saud. My husband stated that he felt his conversations with the Arab King had been a failure, since the King had told him that as long as he lived he did not wish any change. An influx into Palestine of Jewish people from the big cities of the world–like London, Paris, Berlin, New York–would meet resistance because it tended to change the way of life of the whole land.

“The Arabs, said King Saud, are of the same Semitic race as the Jews, and get on well when their backgrounds were similar. My husband said that King Ibn Saud asserted that he had been a warrior all of his life; he was not interested either in farming or forestry; his people were herdsmen and nomads, and he wished no change.

“My husband felt that a later generation might feel differently, but at present there was very little hope of a changed attitude on the part of the Arabs where Palestine was concerned.”

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