371. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Secretary of State Rusk 0


  • Problems and Opportunities Ahead

I know of no problems in NEA that will require the immediate attention of the President.

Policy Implications in the NEA area of President Kennedy’s death. 1

Almost all governments will be shaken and anxious about future American policy. It is of the utmost importance to signal the continuation of strong, confident policy lines.
Pakistan may well believe it now can count on stronger support in the White House of its views vis-à-vis India and may therefore intensify its efforts to halt U.S. military assistance to India.
Conversely, India will be uncertain and troubled about American intentions until it gets fresh signals from Washington.
The Shah will need fresh assurances.
Israel may now conclude that its problems, and especially its security problems, could play a larger role in the 1964 U.S. elections than it had anticipated. After a decent interval it may therefore push harder on these issues.
The Arab states will be likely to fear a pro-Israeli swing in American policy. Consequent agitation, unless tamped down, could lead to more strident anti-Israeli actions (e.g., on Jordan water diversion) and increased interest in links with the USSR.
Saudi Arabia is likely to push for a harder US line against the UAR, especially on Yemen.
The UAR may well expect that the US will be harder to get along with, and in the absence of signs to the contrary that it had better reexamine the balance of its international relationships.

Problems Ahead.

[Here follows paragraph 1 on India and Pakistan.]

Gruening Amendment. President Kennedy was angered and distressed by this Amendment, and we understand was considering making a statement on the matter when he signed the Aid bill. We would strongly hope that President Johnson would adopt the same line.
Yemen, where the U.N.’s Spinelli 2 is seeking with our encouragement to find a way for broadening the base of the Yemen regime, and where risks remain of direct confrontation between the UAR and Saudi Arabia.
Israel and Arab-Israel Issues.
Near Eastern Arms Policy. Pressures to force change in our Near Eastern arms policy have been building up on all sides. We can expect a major push by the Israelis to reinforce their general security position. We also anticipate further pressures to erode our policy in military sales to the Arab countries. Thus, at an early stage we would hope President Johnson could make clear publicly our policy is to seek to reduce tensions and to avoid contributing to an arms race.
Military. The Israelis were rather taken aback by our rebuttals to their high-level presentation of the estimated UAR threat on November 12. They have told us to expect more information. We can expect a major push for (a) tanks and naval equipment, and (b) US concurrence in an [Page 806] Israeli missile program, presumably helped by France (and perhaps Germany).
Jordan Waters. We anticipate strong Arab reactions when, or before, Israel starts pumping Jordan basic waters out of Lake Tiberias in the spring or summer of 1964. Fully supporting Israel’s right to do this under the 1955 Unified Plan, we are seeking to maintain a quieting influence with the Arab states.
Palestine Refugees. Israel got caught in its own box in the refugee debate in the Special Political Committee, and has threatened not to continue talks with us. We will need to work out next steps.

UAR . We told Dr. Kassouni in October that new aid would be extremely difficult to offer so long as the UAR continued heavy spending on the Yemen operation. That position stands. However, we added that we would consider a program loan shortly after the first of the year if certain conditions were met.

[Here follow paragraphs 6–8 on Turkey, Ceylon, and Cyprus.]


Iraq and Syria. Although it is too early to be sure, the new regime in Iraq seems to have established itself as an Iraqi nationalist-cum-moderate Ba’athist government relying heavily on the power of the Army. Nasser has little to be pleased about in the composition of this government. Syria has been put under new strains, and may well be the next trouble spot.

[Here follows paragraph 10 on Nepal.]

Opportunities Ahead.

Presidential responses to messages of condolence. Rather than ordinary expressions of appreciation, these could be written with sufficient substantive content to reassure some of our anxious partners and friends that American policies will remain firm and strong. Thus, reassurances through statements should be made to Prince Faisal, King Hussein, Prime Minister Eshkol, President Nasser, the Shah of Iran, Prime Minister Nehru, and President Ayub.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 NR EAST-US. Secret. Drafted by Talbot and Davies. A handwritten note on the source text indicates Secretary Rusk saw the memorandum. The two major sections of this memorandum were originally prepared as separate memoranda from Talbot to Rusk, both dated November 23 and both bearing indications that Rusk saw them. (Ibid.)
  2. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22.
  3. On November 4, Secretary-General U Thant appointed Pier P. Spinelli, Under Secretary and Director of the U.N. European Office, as his Special Representative for Yemen and Head of the Yemen Observation Mission. Documentation on the Spinelli mission is ibid., POL 2 YEMEN, POL 27 YEMEN, and POL 27–14 YEMEN/UN.
  4. A typewritten note at the end of the source text, entitled ”AID Comment,” drafted by Gaud, deals with the Indus Water settlement.