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

2832. Ref State 91343,2 Amman 2831.3

I saw King Hussein this afternoon to take up reftel. I told him I had another personal message for him from the President and explained [Page 55] that the President would like assurances we would not subsequently be faced with Jordan’s acceptance of Soviet arms offers.
King responded that providing such assurances gave him no difficulty at all. This had always been his understanding of arms arrangements with us. He has no desire to buy arms from the Soviets provided his legitimate requirements can be met by the United States. He said he realized that resumption of shipments would not “bring tanks to Jordan immediately.” But he did need to have a clear understanding of what the USG is prepared to do for Jordan. In giving us assurances about not going to the Soviets he did not want to be left in position of having some of his essential requirements unsatisfied.
I responded that shipments to be resumed initially would include some of items on General Khammash’s “emergency list.” I said I saw this as an important beginning. It would remove pressures from him and would give us all time to see what success Jarring would have. We would all gain time to form a better picture of what kind of military establishment Jordan would need in the years ahead.
The King said he would want in any case to have General Khammash proceed at once to the US to discuss Jordan’s requirements. I said I recognized he would want Khammash to discuss Jordan’s requirements in detail at some point, but I believed it should be put off until things had settled a bit, until we could see where we stood.
At this point King asked if I could wait while he called Khammash to the Palace to join our discussion. When Khammash arrived we went over most of the same ground again with Khammash emphasizing that he could not keep the army loyal to the King if Jordan was only to be provided with a “few spares” and other equipment from his “emergency list.” He was not asking for all of Jordan’s needs at once, but he believed His Majesty would have to have a clear understanding of what the USG proposes to do beyond the “emergency list.” Discussions with the Soviets could be postponed, but Jordan was faced with a summit meeting on Jan 17 and had to be in a position to state authoritatively that its needs were going to be met by the USG. Revival of the UAC is on the summit agenda, and he (Khammash) has already been told that Jordan and other Arab countries at the summit will be expected to indicate how their re-equipping is being accomplished. Beyond this, there is the seriously deteriorating morale of the Jordan army to be considered. They had to have an idea of what comes after the “emergency list.”
Discussion went back and forth over the same ground. The King at one point introduced the Israeli F-4 Phantom request and said he earnestly hoped the USG would not take this step. In the course of our conversation I, of course, emphasized that buying Soviet arms might help to meet a short-term problem but would in its train bring a host [Page 56] of long-term problems. The King’s comment was “I am sorry to have to say that you will have been responsible if that happens.”
Our discussion was concluded with the King suggesting an oral message to the President. We went over the substance of such a message several times, and it has been transmitted separately.
Comment: I tried throughout conversation to talk the King into going along with a general statement of resumption of shipments at this time and putting off a Khammash visit until we could see where things were going. Both he and Khammash were prepared for such moves on my part and had no intention of leaving things fuzzy. Although they did not say so, it was obvious that Khammash’s visit would mean much to them psychologically. It would be a sign that we had moved back together and would be so interpreted by Jordanians and other Arabs. Both the King and Khammash made a special point of emphasizing “legitimate requirements,” and they reiterated statements made in other recent conversations to the effect that if Jarring is successful, their longer term military requirements would change. Although they were fairly insistent that they will need to know before January 17 what we are prepared to do (with the implication that this means the longer term), we believe that discussions with Khammash need not take the form of a complete long-term statement of force goals and equipment. It seems to us that it would be acceptable to the King and Khammash if we approached the problem in stages. We could resume shipment of our recommended list now and try to agree with Khammash on making up some of Jordan’s other losses and deficiencies in a series of stages. This will enable both sides to buy time and provides, we believe, sufficient scope for Khammash’s discussions to satisfy the King before the summit meeting.
The object of this whole exercise has been to buy time, to maintain our position here while a Middle Eastern settlement is being worked out. This object is still important to us, and therefore we strongly recommend that Khammash be invited to proceed to Washington as requested by the King.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19-8 US-JORDAN. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 91343 to Amman, December 30, informed the Embassy that President Johnson wanted an assurance that if the United States decided to meet some of Jordan’s military needs, it would not be embarrassed by having Jordan also accept military assistance from the Soviet Union.
  3. Telegram 2831 from Amman, December 30, transmitted the text of an oral message from King Hussein to President Johnson, which Hussein asked be passed to the President on an urgent basis. Hussein indicated that he was and remained a friend of the West and had no desire to buy arms from the Soviet Union. He noted that he had been patient in waiting for a U.S. decision to resume arms shipments to his country. To meet U.S. concerns in making that decision, Hussein offered an assurance that if the United States supplied Jordan’s needs he would not buy military equipment from the Soviet Union. He offered that assurance, he noted, on the assumption that in due course Jordan’s legitimate requirements would be met. He added that it was imperative that he be able to say that Jordan’s military requirements were being satisfied by the time of the scheduled Arab Summit meeting on January 17. To pave the way for the necessary understanding, Hussein proposed to send his Chief of Staff, General Khammash, to Washington as soon as possible to meet with the appropriate U.S. authorities. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. IV, Cables, 5/67–2/68)