508. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations 1
Washington, November 8, 1967, 1521Z.
66350. Following based on uncleared Memcon 2 FYI and subject revision:
- On November 6 the Secretary hosted a working lunch for King Hussein, who was accompanied by the Jordan Ambassador Sharaf and Chief of Royal Cabinet Rifa’i. The Under Secretary, Assistant Secretaries Battle and Sisco and Harrison Symmes, Ambassador-Designate to Jordan also attended.
- The meeting covered three main subjects—refugees, US Middle East arms policy, and a Security Council resolution on the Arab—Israeli crisis. Discussion on refugees uncovered no new ground. Hussein emphasized that Jordan continued to need relief assistance for the refugees, but that real need was return of refugees to their homes on West Bank. Hussein explained on his own initiative the tie-in between the refugee problem and Israeli transit of the Suez Canal. He said Israeli transit could begin before a complete solution of the refugee problem was reached. What was required was a start towards a solution.
- In discussing arms problem, Secretary expressed keen disappointment at Soviet refusal to cooperate with us in effort restrain arms race in Middle East. Our decision sell aircraft to Israel directly related to influx Soviet arms as we are concerned with arms balance in area. Hussein replied problem was meaning of word “balance”. There was no balance before June 5. Had there not been a war, the Arabs might have reached a balance with Israel within 14 months from last June. Jordan, however, was not only worried about conventional arms, but also about reports Israelis would have atomic weapons in one year. Jordan faced currently with arms requirements which it had not yet been able to satisfy. In interim Jordan compelled retain Iraqi forces its territory for own defense. Jordan had to have arms from some source which definite and continuous.
- Secretary hoped Hussein could understand our problem re arms supply. Problem was to avoid all-inclusive legislative prohibition against supply of arms. He could not exaggerate effect India-Pakistan situation had in this respect. Many legislators upset that American arms [Page 1003]being used by both sides conflict. Congressional attitudes persisted and therefore we had to move slowly. Secretary emphasized it would be disastrous if nuclear weapons introduced in Middle East. Our policy absolutely firm. King could leave it to us because we were very serious on this issue, which we regarded as fundamental.
- Rifa’i indicated Jordan’s understanding of problem explained by Secretary. He could not understand, however, why US gave Israel arms and not its ally Jordan. Ambassador Sharaf added that what had shocked Arab world was that decision sell aircraft to Israel made at same time Israel public position towards settlement current crisis hardening. Secretary understood Arab feelings, but other elements had to be considered. We did not believe it in interest US or Arabs for major powers become involved militarily in Middle East.
- On broader problem UN resolution, Secretary indicated he was not pessimistic and that he hoped we could get started along present lines. Mr. Sisco told Hussein that Ambassador Goldberg and US Delegation very impressed by their talks with His Majesty over the weekend. He emphasized that time was of essence and it important to get a UN representative into the area. Once this done, as Ambassador Goldberg had noted, US could play strong supporting role. Secretary remarked that we are now making some headway. We see shape of possible solution and are prepared use our muscle in supporting a permanent solution that corresponded to sober, reflective judgment of responsible leaders in area.
- In discussing results of Khartoum Conference, Mr. Sisco commented that there appeared inherent limitations on freedom of action given Hussein. In recent days we had wondered if Arab group en masse had not been making decisions in New York rather than individual countries. The Jordanians confirmed again that Khartoum Conference had decided that other Arabs would go along with what King Hussein and President Nasser could work out. Mr. Sisco emphasized that this was a crucial point. An early resolution in July which seemed acceptable to Jordan and the UAR had been killed by other Arabs. It was therefore important that countries primarily concerned should make up their minds and not worry about group psychology. We hoped therefore Jordan could have dominant voice.
- Mr. Sisco then stressed that resolution discussed with King over weekend was crucial. If King and Nasser agreed, everything would be all right. King responded that only difficulty had been matter of withdrawal and how it should be defined. Jordan could accept statements with regard to withdrawal, but what was important was meaning of those statements and Jordan needed a commitment as to their meaning. Ambassador Sharaf commented that Jordan would need to know in its [Page 1004]bilateral negotiations with the United States how latter stood with regard to matters such as withdrawal. The Secretary commented that key question of reciprocity did not involve the US. The United States had not closed the Tiran Straits and if Tiran had not been closed, there would have been no June war. The United States would certainly work to support a settlement that had prospects of success, but the United States was not in complete control of all parties. Our answers alone could not settle problem. Neither Arabs nor Israelis would take our answer as final.
- In summarizing UN situation Mr. Sisco said consultations were continuing. Ambassador Goldberg was discussing draft that was discussed with the King, with other key delegations and in next day or two we should know whether there reasonable chance of success. While Israel not yet signed on, draft provides good starting point. The positive views of Jordan and the UAR would of course be crucial.