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

46230. Ref: Amman’s 1256.2

Believe it would be useful on eve King Hussein’s visit to Moscow for you to give King our understanding current Israeli position on negotiations and our general reaction to Arab position taken at Khartoum.
We have recently been reassured in categoric terms by Israelis that their position on settlement with Jordan remains flexible including point of negotiating some status for King Hussein in Jerusalem. They also noted they had no recent indication of further Jordanian interest in exploring settlement although King had reason to know that it was possible to establish contacts with utmost discretion. They questioned whether in view of King’s public commitments to common policy evolved at Khartoum he had changed his approach and was no longer interested in an early agreement with Israel. Israelis, of course, adhere to basic position that any agreement must lead to genuine state of peace.
Aware of the considerable political and personal risks involved, we cannot in full conscience tell King what we think he should do with regard establishing contacts with Israelis. We do, however, wish to share our feeling there is real danger that Israel’s position on the ground may become even more entrenched and public pressure within Israel [Page 860] move GOI from position of maximum flexibility if some hope for movement toward settlement not maintained. Therefore, time not necessarily on Jordan’s side.
In imparting above, you should avoid any implication that USG is advising him to proceed and make clear that decision is King’s alone and that we will continue to try to be helpful no matter which way it goes.3
We are repeating to you President’s message to King Faisal.4 You should draw on this without identifying source to provide King with our views on results of Khartoum meeting.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Miscellaneous Material. Top Secret; Priority; Nodis; Sandstorm. Drafted by Davies, cleared by Katzenbach and Saunders, and approved by Battle. Repeated to USUN as Tosec 52. A September 29 memorandum from Saunders to Walt Rostow, attached to the source text, states that Saunders had made revisions, which he had cleared with Davies. A handwritten note by Rostow indicating his approval of the revised telegram is on Saunders’ memorandum.
  2. Telegram 1256 from Amman, September 4, reported that on the previous day, Burns had relayed to King Hussein a proposal from Eban for a direct meeting. The King replied that he did not think the time was ripe; the Israeli attitude on refugees, as well as indications of the Israeli attitude concerning a settlement, made direct negotiations appear unprofitable for the time being. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–14 ARAB–ISR/SANDSTORM) The proposal under reference has not been found, but in a message that Evron conveyed to Eugene Rostow on August 25, Eban recalled that in a recent talk between him and Rusk, the latter had expressed willingness to consider ways in which a secret meeting between Israeli and Jordanian representatives could be arranged; Eban thought the time was approaching when such a step would be useful and requested U.S. views on how it could be accomplished. Rostow said he would take this up with Rusk at once. (Ibid.)
  3. Burns reported in telegram 1692 from Amman, October 2, that he had met with the King on October 1 to convey the points in telegram 46230. He reported that the King had not commented directly concerning this, but that he had referred to a conversation that Jordanian Minister of National Economy Hatem Zu’bi had had with Eugene Rostow in Rio de Janeiro, in which, according to Zu’bi, Rostow had made a statement that the King interpreted as pressure for direct negotiations. Burns assured him that this was not the case. (Ibid.)
  4. Document 447.