43. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas1

CAP 0247. Subject: PL 480 Agreement for Jordan.

Secretary Freeman, Bill Gaud and Charlie Schultze recommend you approve a $2.1 million wheat agreement for Jordan. Treasury concurs. This would cover 30,000 tons for dollars over twenty years.

This agreement will partly substitute for aid dollars. Since Jordan for the moment is receiving all the foreign exchange aid it needs, we suspended our budget support as of the final quarter of 1967. Our strategy is to combine this PL 480 deal and $3 million in aid technical assistance funds as a substitute for that last quarter of budget support to cushion the transition to no support in 1968. We plan to use the aid money for feasibility studies that will help the Jordanians use the Arab money they have to good permanent advantage.

This would be useful politically, too. It is one of the few positive things we’ve been able to do. The Jordanians are upset that we are ending budget support, and we are just barely scraping through on the military side. We got our response on arms out the day after Hussein had agreed to receive Soviet mission. Harry Symmes had to persuade Hussein to withdraw a letter stating that our response had come too late and to put off the Soviet visit. He succeeded, but we may still have a hard enough time responding adequately to his arms requests. A move on the economic side would help a little. Now that we have Israeli acquiescence to our blocking the Soviets in Jordan, I think we need to get back into business in every way we reasonably can. Fortunately, PL 480 is one of the few resources we can use relatively freely.

You should know that this is the first substantial agreement to be processed under the new “Symington amendment”2 to the aid bill which requires the President to “take into consideration” whether such aid will be diverted to military ends or enable the recipient to support unnecessary military expenditures. As you know, we have kept the Jordanian military budget within agreed limits. The percentage of total expenditures has been quite high but declining. The Jordanians are the only Arab combatants in the June war that have not purchased substantial replacements for their loses.

[Page 102]

We would like to get this out as quickly as possible since a Soviet economic mission is already in Jordan.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Jordan, Vol. IV, Memos, 5/67-2/68. Secret.
  2. The Symington Amendment was Section 620 (s) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1967. (P.L. 90-137; 81 Stat. 445)
  3. The approve line is checked to indicate the President approved the recommendation. A handwritten note by Jim Jones reads: “Jones told Rostow.” Telegram 97470 to Amman, January 11, informed the Embassy that the Texas White House had announced approval to negotiate a P.L. 480 program for Jordan. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, (US) 15 JORDAN)