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

589. Depcirtels 1750 and 1842.2 Following drafted by Ambassador before departure.

First opportunity see King Hussein since receipt second reftel came late afternoon April 7 following his return from Aqaba. Since most of same ground had been covered with him before, I couched presentation in terms of request from Washington that I review with him before departure for Geneva meeting current USG thinking on Middle East and his own earlier request that we be completely frank with him. I then made detailed statement based on first reftel. I added expression of appreciation for his recent comment to NY Times that he understood Harriman mission had been helpful, and in discussing drift of some Arab states toward Sovbloc said I could not refrain from noting his government planned sign agreement for use of Soviet radio programs whereas they had never been willing use ours. While admitting this different type of drift, said Washington could hardly refrain from speculating on such action.

King listened attentively and then said he wished comment on some of points made. First he appreciated frankness of approach. He had always desired intimate and honest exchange of views with USG on area problems but in past had never felt this fully achieved. He hoped Washington would be willing make possible continuation of discussions this nature. He placed great value in relationship with Western powers which stood for things in which Jordan believed and above all else he desired preserve this relationship. Second, he was pleased American Ambassadors in Near East meeting together and he hoped we would take very hard look at US policy in area and particularly at possibilities of some rather drastic new ideas or initiatives. Admitted he did not have solution which he wanted to sell but felt that for too long USG had reacted to events rather than trying to influence them in proper direction. Only hope for peace and stability in area, he felt, lay with U.S. and other Western friends.

As for behavior of Arab states, he admitted this had not been what it should have been not because of summit but despite summit. Summit [Page 434] decisions in his opinion had been essentially correct but some leaders were going back to pre-summit atmosphere. This was very dangerous and his policy, as he had shown in West German case, was based on determined effort to maintain Arab unity even when this involved minor concessions on items where Jordan would otherwise have disagreed. He recognized however that Arabs must do more than this; they must work together constructively and in particular begin to deal with internal problems of economic, political and social growth. This has been his effort in past few weeks in Jordan and would continue to be major point of his domestic policy. We could expect further changes, both in personnel and concepts within coming weeks.

Hussein [garble] agreed there had been drift to left in some Arab states, particularly Syria and UAR, but he still adhered to belief Arabs would not become Communist. However this was problem which needed careful attention for Communists were only ones gaining from present tensions. As to report of agreement for Soviet radio programs, he knew nothing of this and would look into it. Did not think I should take matter seriously (report had come from Under Secretary Information) and in any case if GOJ reached such decision, they would make comparable agreement with USG.

Jordan water question was without doubt at very critical state, though he considered this more symptom of underlying dispute than real cause of difficulty. Arab states would not and could not stop diversion works, though it remained to be seen whether these works would seriously hurt Israel. However, he felt Israel had embarked on determined effort to halt Arab works. Therefore he suggested that for planning purposes USG work on hypothesis that hostilities would ensue in 1965. He hoped these could be limited and under [no?] circumstances would Arabs attack, and perhaps out of it all some sensible agreements could be reached. But at moment he could not see entirely peaceful resolution of issue.

On arms question he felt we were guilty of miscalculation. As USG well knew, he firmly believed Israel was expansionist power determined to acquire more territory. Balance of arms which was needed in area was one which would convince Israel it could not continue aggressive policies, push out its frontiers and constantly strive for more territory. Only when Israel recognized this could there be resolution of basic issue. There was no question of “driving Israel into sea” but equally Arabs would not sit back and accept further encroachments. His great concern was that US approach on arms to Israel was not designed to create kind of balance he had in mind but rather was one which constantly tempted Israel to flaunt its power in face of weaker neighbors. He was particularly conscious of this because Jordan was most exposed and stood to lose most if hostilities resulted.

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Finally, he said he wanted to enter plea that we so conduct ourselves as not to give Nasser another club with which to beat Arabs or West, since all Arab states and Western interests would inevitably suffer. Queried to his meaning, he said he felt that it important that we continue wheat shipments with minimum fanfare so that Nasser would really have to stand up and face horrible economic mess he has made of Egypt. If we stopped shipments, Nasser would charge Western imperialist conspiracy against Egypt and make political capital out of it, thus hiding what was real problem inside Egypt. Hussein implied without so stating that he anticipated that Nasser, if we stopped wheat shipments, would call for nationalization of oil so that greater profits could be made available to Arab world and hence to Egypt, but in process seriously damage position of oil producing states and of West.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL NEAR E. Secret; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Geneva for Talbot and to Rabat, Tripoli, London, Beirut, Damascus, Tel Aviv, Tunis, Jidda, Kuwait, Baghdad, Algiers, Cairo, and Jerusalem.
  2. See Document 194 and footnote 1 thereto.