310. 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, September 5, 19581


  • Withdrawal of U.S.–U.K. Troops from Lebanon and Jordan Respectively

Mr. Rountree called in Lord Hood to inform him that the Department had been giving consideration to the question of the withdrawal of certain U.S. troops from Lebanon. He said he knew the British would be interested in being informed of all developments of this nature because of the relationship to the question of British withdrawal from Jordan and Prime Minister Rifai’s attitude thereto (reported in Amman’s telegram 749)2 with the presence of U.S. forces in Lebanon.

Mr. Rountree said the U.S. would withdraw one battalion of Marines about September 15, hoping it would be a salutary development in advance of Chehab’s inauguration. Another battalion, he said, will be withdrawn soon after the inauguration if political circumstances permit. Granted favorable conditions, the withdrawal of the sole remaining battalion and support troops might be completed, Mr. Rountree stated, before the end of October. No firm decisions had been made, however, except for the September 15 withdrawal of one battalion.3

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Mr. Rountree informed Lord Hood in confidence of Prime Minister Rifai’s statement to Chargé d’Affaires Wright in Amman that he had informed the Secretary General he would be willing to see the British leave Jordan by September 30 provided Nasser agrees to abide by the General Assembly resolution. Mr. Rountree said that this eventually seemed to hinge in part on the U.S.–U.K. decision re the financing of two additional Jordan army brigades. Lord Hood indicated a preference for an elementary level of equipment rather than the ambitious plans Rifai seemed to have in mind. Mr. Rountree remarked that the expense would be considerable in any case and we did not know how it could be met.

The Hawker–Hunters scheduled for delivery to Jordan by the U.K. were discussed briefly, Lord Hood stating that HMG has no particular views but is prepared to move in any manner the U.S. thinks desirable. In any case, it would be a long time before the planes got off the ground.

Lord Hood expressed pleasure at the suggestion that the Jordanians have a definite date in mind for the departure of British troops, saying he thought this news would be a relief to his government. The British have had the impression, he said, that Jordan wanted them to remain indefinitely. On the other hand, it would be embarassing to depart prematurely only to find it necessary to return. He said he would be interested in knowing on what basis the Secretary General had suggested September 30. He hoped the U.S. and U.K. would remain in close touch on the issue.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5411/9–558. Secret. Drafted on September 9 by William L. Hamilton.
  2. Supra .
  3. At the Secretary’s Staff Meeting on September 5, Dulles said that the President was interested and hopeful that there would be a further reduction of U.S. forces in Lebanon. Rountree noted the tentative plan calling for the withdrawal of one battalion on September 15, a second on September 30, and the balance of the forces on October 15. Dulles and Rountree agreed that it would be necessary to consult with the British on the overall plan, especially as Jordan represented the main potential stumbling block, but they also agreed that the British should be informed rather than consulted on the first reduction. (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)