344. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

7823. Subj: December 8 Hussein-Scranton talk. Pass other posts at Dept’s discretion.

Following is Embassy-prepared summary of conversation between King Hussein and Governor Scranton evening of December 8. Zaid Rifai, Secretary General of Royal Diwan, was only other person present. Summary report approved by Governor Scranton.
Governor Scranton said that King presented his points calmly and dispassionately throughout talk. While revealing disappointment with US actions, or lack of actions, did not punctuate his criticism with sharp or bitter comments. He was “very pleasant.” (Zaid Rifai later at King’s dinner told me that he thought the talk had gone very well and that the King had been impressed and pleased with the Governor.)
Much of conversation dealt with terms of possible settlement (Amman 7822).2 Hussein agreed with Scranton’s interpretation of Nasser’s position as revealed in recent Cairo conversation:3 i.e., (A) Nasser wanted Sinai back; (B) was willing to be accommodating re Canal, Tiran Straits; (C) could participate in contractual arrangement to Security Council under SC resolution; (D) could accept UN presence but not demilitarization; (E) would find no problem with UN or other kind of international presence at Sharm al-Shaykh; (F) did not believe Syria would present a major problem in settlement; and (G) did not necessarily want to keep Gaza, but did not want it to be given to Israel.
Hussein revealed a favorable estimate of Nasser now. Admitted having difficulties with him in past, but asserted he was utterly convinced that Nasser wanted a settlement. Said he and Nasser were working closely together. Zaid Rifai mentioned to Scranton that Hussein [Page 683] had occasionally “laid down the law to Nasser” and Nasser had complied.
Hussein seemed quite confident about his abilities to keep the country under control. Admitted he had problem with Iraqi forces but felt he had this situation under control as well. Admitted that King Faysal was giving money to Fedayeen, and that latter had ChiCom and Russian equipment.
Hussein did not raise Phantom issue as such, or his interest in sending General Khammash to Washington. Only Rifai referred to Hussein’s Dec 2 message to President Johnson.4 Hussein said he could not defend Jordan if Israel attacked. Mentioned that pressures to buy Russian arms were growing, but did not criticize US position on arms supplies.
Hussein said he was convinced that Soviets genuinely wanted peace.
Hussein also indicated his interest in an early visit to the US to see President-elect.
Scranton went into some depth with Hussein re Jordan’s economic future, noting how well country had been doing prior to June war. (He also pursued subject during subsequent dinner with King, discussing water resources, desalination schemes, etc.)
Scranton also discussed refugee problem at length. King wanted some scheme which would bring refugees as a group under one authority.5
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US/SCRANTON. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem.
  2. Telegram 7822 from Amman, December 9, provided an account of Governor Scranton’s discussion with King Hussein on the informal exchanges between Jordan and Israel. King Hussein indicated that as a result of the exchanges he had become convinced that Israel was not serious about negotiating a settlement with Jordan. His conclusion was that Israel was determined to annex significant portions of the West Bank and would refuse to leave East Jerusalem. Hussein felt that the United States was the only country capable of exerting sufficient pressure to change Israeli policy, but he did not anticipate such a dramatic change in U.S. policy. (Ibid., POL 27-14 ARAB-ISR/SANDSTORM)
  3. See Document 343.
  4. See 341.
  5. Scranton also met with Prime Minister Talhouni on December 8. A report on that meeting was transmitted to the Department in telegram 7831 from Amman, December 10. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 7 US/SCRANTON)