298. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Minister of the British Embassy (Lord Hood) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree), Department of State, Washington, August 27, 19581


  • Jordan

Mr. Rountree said that Mr. Lloyd’s message to the Secretary2 had raised several questions. We could not at this time address ourselves to the long range problems of Jordan, nor could we now spell out the manner in which we might achieve our objectives. However, our thinking seemed to be along the same general lines as that of the British. Our immediate and pressing problem was how we might reply to the questions put to us by Hussein and Rifai.

There seemed to be some confusion in the minds of Hussein and Rifai, Mr. Rountree said, as to what they actually wanted. For example, they had requested a mutual defense treaty with the United States, knowing that it would be impossible for us to agree. One could only speculate on the motives behind their threats to resign: possibly they were attempting to pressure us into giving them additional aid and possibly they were seriously contemplating such action and were setting the stage for such an eventuality.

Lord Hood suggested that Hussein and Rifai were putting pressure on us now so that they might go to the Arab League meeting on September 6 with full assurance of aid from us.

Mr. Rountree agreed that it was desirable to give Hussein and Rifai a feeling of security but at this stage we were limited as to what we might do. We must be careful not to give the Arab countries an opportunity to place on us the onus for failure to implement the Arab Resolution. Furnishing two additional brigades to the Jordanian Army [Page 528] might have this unfortunate result. Mr. Rountree handed Lord Hood a draft of our proposed telegram to Amman,3 which Lord Hood read.

Lord Hood commented that in his opinion the draft telegram was too vague and made no concrete offer. He wondered if we might suggest to the Jordanian Government that we were prepared to begin discussing with them plans to equip the two brigades. Mr. Rountree said that we were not now prepared to discuss this subject with the Jordanians. We did not have the funds available and, should we decide to equip the brigades, the money would have to be taken from a different program. We were not even convinced that the two brigades were desirable. The existence of the Arab Resolution raised grave questions in our own minds as to the extent of aid we should give Jordan at this point. We were not now prepared either to say we would equip the brigades or that we would not.

Lord Hood said that in his opinion the two brigades were the absolute minimum of what we might do to encourage Hussein and Rifai to continue in office. We should give them these assurances now. It was apparent that the King needed additional reliable troops and the equipping of two Bedouin brigades seemed to be the answer. Current thinking, he added, was that arms for the two brigades might come from unreliable units of the Jordan Army which were being demobilized on the West Bank. It would be important to discuss what we were willing to do in this line with the Jordanians before the Arab League meeting on September 6. The second important factor, Lord Hood continued, was to give Hussein and Rifai some assurance for the future on the financial side and to spell out exactly what might be available to Jordan. The Secretary of State had hoped that the US could commit $50 million for FY 1959 rather than to dole out relatively small sums on a month-to-month ad hoc basis. Mr. Rountree pointed out the difficulty of committing long-term funds to a country such as Jordan, whose bookkeeping is far from efficient. If we were to carry the financial burden of equipping these brigades, our economic assistance to Jordan would necessarily have to be reduced.

Lord Hood commented that the US was apparently not prepared at this time to undertake to supplement the UK offer of $5 million of aid for FY 1959. He again reiterated that the telegram was unfortunately too vague and asked if it could not be more precise.

Mr. Rountree suggested that he and Lord Hood discuss this matter further with Under Secretary Herter and Under Secretary Dillon at a meeting which was arranged for 5:30 the same afternoon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.5–MSP/8–2758. Secret. Drafted by Dorman.
  2. Document 295.
  3. The telegram, as revised and sent to Amman on August 27, is Document 301.