304. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Presentation of Credentials by Ambassador of Yemen


  • The President
  • His Excellency Muhsin al-Ayni, Ambassador of Yemen
  • Phillips Talbot, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • William J. Tonesk, Deputy Chief of Protocol

The President welcomed Ambassador al-Ayni and commented that, as a man of just over 30, he seemed to have already had a full life.1 The Ambassador thanked him, said that he was very pleased to be in the United States, and would work to improve U.S.-Yemeni relations.

The President expressed the hope that disengagement could be achieved promptly. In answer to a series of questions he asked, the Ambassador made several statements about the present situation in the Yemen. He said he thought there are about 25,000 UAR troops there now. He said that the Yemenis hoped for better relations with the British, who had so far refused to recognize the Yemen Arab Republic because, they [Page 662] say, of the UAR presence. However, their non-recognition complicates the situation in the Yemen. The Ambassador also said that the YAR is still having some difficulty with the tribes, but that the situation would be better if there were an end to outside assistance to dissident tribes. The President stated our belief that Saudi support for the tribes has virtually stopped.

The President asked what are the prospects of a union between Yemen and the UAR. The Ambassador replied that they are very limited and he does not expect such a union. U.S. assistance in meeting Yemen’s emergency problems would be a better way of helping Yemen get on its feet. In response to another Presidential question, the Ambassador said he did not know how many Russians are now in the Yemen, though some numbers of them are now working on the airport and elsewhere.

Ambassador al-Ayni told the President that President Sallal had instructed him to convey the thanks and appreciation of the Yemen Government to the United States for the understanding and friendly assistance it had already given. He said that President Sallal wants strong relations with the United States and expects to base these on more and more cooperation with the United States. From these statements of President Sallal, the Ambassador said he had concluded that Yemen does not want to go ahead into closer relations with the Soviet Union. What has happened is merely that Yemen greatly needs some assistance which the Soviet Union has offered to give it, and this has been accepted.

President Kennedy noted that the United States has tried to help Yemen through its actions in recognizing the Republican regime and in encouraging disengagement of outside forces. He expressed the hope that the Yemen Arab Republic could go forward and solve its own problems free of outside interference. The Ambassador expressed his appreciation and, at this point, presented his credentials.

Noting that the Ambassador’s remarks included an expression of hope for United States aid, the President explained that we are now deeply involved with Congress which after years of dealing with foreign aid has become fatigued on this issue. We would have to see how we come out. On the question of budget support, the President said that we have practically given up that form of assistance in favor of development loans. However, as the Ambassador would know, the United States is providing food grains to Yemen under PL 480.

The Ambassador said that the United States policy toward the Middle East as expressed by President Kennedy is much appreciated by both the ordinary people and the intellectuals in Arab countries. The Arabs hope that this policy will continue. Yemenis believe in strong relations between Yemen and the United States, and these depend on a continuation of overall U.S. policy in the area.

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The President concluded by saying that he would like to see Yemen succeed in its efforts to build a sound peaceful country. The United States had associated itself with these efforts by actions designed to free Yemen from outside influences. He repeated that he was glad to welcome the Ambassador and would be available to see him at any time the Ambassador wished.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149. Confidential. Drafted by Talbot and approved in the White House on August 1.
  2. On July 16, Brubeck requested an appointment for Kennedy to meet with the new Yemeni Ambassador. (Ibid., Central Files, POL 17–1 YEMEN-US)