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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Conversation on Sale of Jets to Lebanon Versus Israel

(June 30, 1964)

An interesting conversation illustrating State Department calculations regarding jet sales to Lebanon and other Arab states.

75. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot)1

Washington, June 30, 1964, 9:42 a.m.


Sec asked if we would sell supersonic aircraft to Israel. T said no. Sec asked why we sell to the Lebanese.2 T said basically because we are doing for the Lebanese, Saudis and possibly the Jordanians what we would not do for the three main Arab countries on the grounds that Lebanon is acknowledged by Israel to be no threat. Sec said he did not see our selling supersonic aircraft to any of the Arab neighbors if we are not prepared to sell to Israel. T said there was a paper which has been on its way to the Sec since April; last week we asked for the beginning of a study on the implications of the whole idea of military sales; there has been a great change in what is being offered without any policy considerations being given. Sec asked if we asked Israelis if they minded what they would say. T said they would rather we sell nothing to any Arab country but they have accepted tacitly our support of these three. Sec said he had an uneasy feeling that we do not have our policy lines straightened out on this issue; let's give some thought to that; it would be possible for govts in these three to change or for united command to be set up. T agreed; T said he wanted to get whole question of military sales up to high level consideration.


1 Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Rusk Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. Prepared by Rusk's personal assistant Carolyn J. Proctor.

2 Talbot informed the Lebanese Ambassador on June 30 of U.S. willingness to enter into an agreement to sell 16 F-8A aircraft but not "Sidewinder" missiles. (Telegram 2 to Beirut, July 1; ibid., Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12-5 LEB) A July 7 memorandum from Talbot to Rusk outlined the background of the sale. (Ibid., DEF 19-3 US-LEB) An agreement was signed July 15. (Telegram 68 to Beirut, July 16; ibid., DEF 12-5 LEB)

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 18, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1964-1967. DC: GPO, 2000.