353. Editorial Note

On July 12, 1967, at 2:45 p.m., President Johnson met with Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Walt Rostow, and George Christian at luncheon at the White House. According to notes of the meeting by Deputy White House Press Secretary Tom Johnson, who was also present, there was some discussion concerning the Middle East.

The President said that he was “still concerned about the Middle East situation” and was “more concerned about the Soviet position in the Middle East than Secretary McNamara and Secretary Rusk appeared to be.” He said he wanted a “report on what U.S. posture should be concerning the arms shipment situation into the Middle East.” Secretary McNamara said he would favor “a unilateral report to the United Nations on U.S. arms shipments to Middle East countries even if the Soviets did not decide to make public their arms shipments into the area.”

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After some discussion concerning Vietnam, they returned briefly to the subject of the Middle East. Rostow reviewed three proposals by Bundy. According to Johnson’s notes, they concerned Soviet arms shipments to the Middle East, arms registration with the United Nations, and an Israeli request for more arms. The President asked that Rostow “confer with Rusk and McNamara and come back to the President with a report on these issues.” (Johnson Library, Tom Johnson’s Notes of Meetings)

Rostow’s agenda for the meeting indicates that Bundy’s three proposals were the arms registration proposal, selected military aid approvals, and limited extension of PL 480 Title II aid through voluntary agencies to some of the radical Arab countries, especially Algeria and the UAR. Rostow’s handwritten notations on the agenda indicate that there was to be a meeting the next day on the first point, that on the second point they should “wait on Hill,” and that on the third point the answer was “no-on Hill.” (Ibid., National Security File, Files of Walt W. Rostow)