1. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Davies) to the Under Secretary of State (Katzenbach)1


  • Arms for Jordan

There is attached a telegraphic memorandum from Ambassador Symmes [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].2

Ambassador Symmes is concerned that one of the first matters of business which the King will take up with him when he returns to Amman November 26 is to ask what further response the USG may have made to his request for arms. The Ambassador is certain that Hussein feels that the passage of the U.K. resolution3 was facilitated by his own diplomatic efforts. In addition, the Ambassador points out that it will be indispensable to Hussein in continuing to work for a political settlement to have his Army solidly behind him. The Army, according to reports reaching our Embassy, has been generating pressure on the Government to resupply equipment lost during the June war. Ambassador Symmes believes that the November 21 incidents, with the bombardment of the Karama refugee camp and the Israeli air attack, will heighten this pressure. The Ambassador fears that if the King becomes suspicious that we will not be able to help him out, he could quickly become so frustrated that he might decide to go to the Soviets for arms.

The Ambassador reports that the Embassy expects within the next day or so a list of those items whose delivery the Jordanian military command considers absolutely essential.

The Ambassador concludes his message by stating that our willingness to lift our embargo on arms for Jordan and to exert efforts to [Page 2] help Jordan obtain arms from other suppliers may soon become critical to our relationship.4


We subscribe to the Ambassador’s analysis of the pressures which are working on the King to procure arms to re-equip his Army and the likely consequences if we are not in a position to help him. As soon as we have received the list of items which the Jordan Army considers absolutely essential, we will recommend to you a course of action with regard to the shipment of arms to Jordan. In the meantime, we intend, as an interim measure, to query the King as to the status of his efforts to obtain some of his requirements from European sources in the event that we might be able to facilitate his efforts. The Ambassador would make clear that in so querying the King we were trying to be helpful and in no way indicating that we had decided not to supply arms to Jordan.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, NEA Files: Lot 72 D 39, Jordan. Secret. Drafted by Robert B. Houghton and Davies.
  2. Dated November 24 and addressed to Assistant Secretary Battle.
  3. Reference is to Resolution 242, adopted by the UN Security Council on November 22. (UN doc. S/RES/242 (1967)) For documentation relating to the adoption of this resolution, which outlined the basis for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIX.
  4. In telegram 74860 to Amman, November 25, the Department responded that the question of arms for Jordan was under intensive review, but in view of the complexity of the problem it was impossible to predict an outcome. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12-5 JORDAN) On November 27 the Embassy reiterated the pressing need for a positive response to the Jordanian Government’s request for a recommencement of arms supplies to Jordan. (Telegram 2395 from Amman; ibid.)