389. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
On arrival palace found British Ambassador Johnston in reception room. He seemed surprised see me asked if I knew what had caused King call us in at such unusual hour. Before I could answer we were ushered into King’s private office where Prime Minister Rifai as well as King were waiting receive us.
King opened conversation on polite note by voicing his appreciation past help given Jordan by its two good friends US and UK. [191/2 lines of source text not declassified]
He invited Prime Minister Rifai make whatever comments he wished. Rifai repeated in much same words what he told me earlier (see Embtel 1556) but with new twist that Jordan reserves could not be equipped without endangering country’s financial stability.
[3 paragraphs (23 lines of source text) not declassified]
- USG had global commitments all designed provide maximum protection entire free world from Communist encroachment. During past year this required expenditures particularly increase far in excess of anything anticipated yet those expenditures were indirectly a contribution to Jordan’s security as member free world community.
- While fully appreciative King’s reluctance cut back army troop strength, I wish point out even US had had to do same thing with prospects even greater costs to come.
- US aid proposed JFY 1960 adds up to impressive figure when include 40.5 million dollar budget support plus technical, economic assistance together distinct possibility substantial DLF loans. [31/2 lines of source text not declassified]
- In as much as British Ambassador had been invited sit in on discussion my aide-mémoire I suppose HKJ intended ascertain what assistance HMG might be willing provide close gap Jordan budgetary deficit.
King said in as much as US and UK work closely together global basis, he hoped HMG would either be able increase its own assistance Jordan or convince USG it in interest free world prevent collapse present pro-Western regime which would inevitably result loss not only Jordan but entire Middle East.[Page 676]
Ambassador Johnston who I am certain from subsequent conversations I had with him was caught flatfooted said in all fairness to King and Prime Minister he could hold out little hope HMG could increase its contribution. He made point UK as banker sterling area must carefully consider any further drain on its financial reserves which would endanger other sectors sterling area politically as well as economically. He promised report to London Hussein position re US aid with recommendation it be urgently discussed with Washington.
[1 paragraph (31/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
I replied that in many cases type aid he referred to took form commodities which when sold within recipient countries generated local currency used meet critical needs. In Jordan’s case not possible to absorb large importation commodities of type available as surpluses US. I said my opinion Jordan has received very preferential treatment by US Congress which is most reluctant provide any country with budgetary support as matter of fact for two successive years substantial increases Jordan budgetary support has been granted despite difficult domestic problem it poses for executive branch my government.
In view serious implications inherent in His Majesty’s statement, I requested clarification as to exactly what he wished British Ambassador and myself transmit our Government.
King said while it may be possible HKJ can somehow get through last quarter JFY 1959, under no circumstances could government continue if budgetary support held to $40.5 million. He requested immediate reconsideration USG commitment urged HMG do everything possible increase its own contribution or persuade USG revise upward to minimum $50 to $55 million its budget support JFY 60. [6 lines of source text not declassified]
[2 lines of source text not declassified] I assured him I understood his position and would convey his request my government at once. However, I cautioned him against expecting any reply prior early January due absence Secretary from Washington together fact Assistant Secretary Rountree would not be back on job until day or so before Christmas.
[3 paragraphs (7 lines of source text) not declassified]
(c) Request made shortly after Iraq revolution for expansion Jordan Army by two brigades opposed by USG which dispatched General Risden mission which to date has made no recommendations along lines hoped for by Hussein in his determination build army with substantial offensive capabilities.
[ Subparagraphs (d) and (e) (81/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
(f) What appears on basis facts available be US decision force cut back personnel Jordan armed forces at very moment continuing drought now in its tenth month is creating serious unemployment problem which will be further aggravated by reduction armed forces.[Page 677]
(g) Current press reports indicating US in face increasing Communist threats Middle East especially Iraq searching means reach accommodations with Nasser as only potential ally in Arab world possessing sufficient following offer resistance Communist threat. [l line of source text not declassified]
[1 paragraph (121/2 lines of source text) not declassified]