233. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

94. From Johnston. Yesterday I met twice with Ministerial Committee.2 I opened discussions by referring to your statement and saying you and I agreed it preferable conduct negotiations in atmosphere complete frankness re US policy. Pointed out I might be open [Page 411] to charge bad faith if I secured agreement immediately before issuance policy statement which might affect views governments concerned.

I then outlined program in some detail, laying facts squarely on table. Some disappointment expressed re reduction water quantity. Meetings cordial but surprisingly little inclination bargain. Questions indicated desire for information and our answers appeared satisfy them on points raised.

Your statement obviously very much in minds officials here though effect on these negotiations as yet inconclusive. I am asking water proposals be considered entirely separately from question political accommodation outlined your statement and am pointing out your statement together with history negotiations demonstrate separability. However, strong tendency persists many quarters assume statement puts water proposals in political context which makes their acceptance impossible. In light traditional Arab reluctance make decisions it is entirely possible statement is being seized upon as convenient excuse take no decisive step regardless statements contents or merits.

Am lunching with King, Cabinet and Abdel Monem Rifai today.3 Rifai has been consistently helpful although degree influence unclear. Expect ministerial committee report to Cabinet today on our discussions.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/8–2855. Confidential. Received at 2:35 p.m. Repeated to Beirut, Damascus, Cairo, London, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Jidda, and Paris.
  2. Summary minutes of discussions held August 25–30 between Johnston and his staff and Jordanian representatives are filed, along with related documents,ibid.,NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 254, The Fourth Mission—No. 21 (Negotiating File).
  3. Johnston reported that his luncheon session was “encouraging” and that, in the course of a subsequent private conversation with King Hussein, he had emphasized to Hussein that his government had to come to a decision about the Jordan Valley Plan; that Jordan would be the “primary beneficiary of project and must fight for it before League if it wants it. He replied decision will be made and reaffirmed Jordan needs project. Disposition Cabinet toward project appears be generally favorable but it still reluctant come to decision. Expect it will attempt obtain some modifications in proposal, but precise extent still unknown.” (Telegram 95 from Amman, August 29;ibid., 684A.85322/8–2955)