26. Telegram From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 671220. On your instruction we passed the following message to King Hussein:2

“The President has indicated that he will make decision on Jordan arms recommendation by New Year's. He is inclined to be sympathetic to Jordan's needs, and hopes the King will not make a major decision before hearing from us.”

We continue to get reports from Jordan that time is running out and that King Hussein feels it necessary to make some decision on Soviet arms by the first of the year. We have strung him along since mid-August and doubt we can do so much longer.

The package which Nick Katzenbach recommends would total about $6.5 million of spare parts, automotive and communications gear, some anti-tank guns and ammunition. We all know the Israelis won't like this but we have been interested to note in the last few weeks a much more relaxed Israeli attitude toward Hussein. In any case, this equipment will not affect the Israeli-Jordanian arms balance.

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Since this is a token move to reopen the door and block the Soviets. I should think we could sell it to the Israelis who will not want to jeopardize their aircraft requests by making a fuss over such an inconsequential package from Jordan.

If you are ready to go ahead, the next step would be to authorize Ambassador Symmes to offer this package to Hussein.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. IV. Memos, 5/67-2/68. Secret.
  2. Sent to Amman on December 26 in telegram 89454. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 19-8 US-JORDAN)
  3. There is no indication of the President's approval or disapproval. An attached note, dictated by telephone at 9:30 p.m. on December 28 by Jim Jones to Rostow, gives the President's response as follows: “Make the views expressed in the first paragraph my views. Let's get their reaction first. I'm not going to hug him to give him some arms.”