382. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan 1

1183. Please inform King that we believe most effective way for HKJ to handle incident arising out of King’s flight across Syria2 would be to present matter to Spinelli as being flagrant contravention of principle set forth in Arab Resolution August 25.3 We understand clearance for flight was obtained through Spinelli and therefore would seem Syrian action engages Spinelli’s position as well as that of King. We believe handling matter this way would have favorable repercussions from view Jordanian prestige and with regard reaction other nations. We think it would be undesirable for Jordan attempt retaliate in some dramatic manner against UAR as no long range benefits would be obtained by Jordan and such action might indeed be harmful from Jordanian point of view by provoking retaliation in return. In matter of plane incident Syrians clearly in wrong and we believe best way to make this clear, while minimizing possibility of UAR’s taking steps adverse to Jordan, would be to have recourse to Spinelli who is present in Amman precisely for such purpose.4

Herter
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.11/11–1058. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Rockwell and cleared by Rountree and in IO by Cargo. Repeated to Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, and USUN.
  2. On November 10, King Hussein, flying his own plane en route to a European vacation, was ordered to land by Syrian authorities while in Syrian airspace. Hussein raced for the Jordanian border while two MIGs with UAR markings tried to force his plane down. After landing in Amman, Hussein broadcast a statement protesting the incident, and intervened to prevent units of the Jordanian army from launching a spontaneous attack on Syria. The King maintained the army units in a state of readiness on the Syrian border, and cancelled his European vacation. (Tosec 2 to Seattle, November 10; ibid.)
  3. Apparent reference to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on August 21; see Document 287.
  4. Wright reported, in telegram 1332 from Amman, November 12, that he had discussed the plane incident with Prime Minister Rifai and, as instructed, counseled moderation. Rifai indicated that a military response was unlikely, but noted that Jordan might submit a request for Security Council action on the matter. (Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/11–1258)