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John F. Kennedy Administration: Israeli PM Ben-Gurion Requests Meeting With Kennedy

(April 13, 1961)

This memorandum relates to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's request to meet with President Kennedy.

Prime Minister Ben-Gurion's Request for an Appointment with the President

The Secretary
Ambassador Avraham Harman of Israel
Mordechai Gazit, Minister, Embassy of Israel
NEA--Assistant Secretary G. Lewis Jones
NEA/NE--William L. Hamilton

Ambassador Harman informed the Secretary that Prime Minister Ben-Gurion hopes to have an early opportunity to talk with the President to discuss and clarify a number of subjects of current importance to Israel, including security questions and Israel's atomic energy program. According to the Ambassador, the Prime Minister could make the visit as early as the week of April 23. He has had the possibility of such a visit in mind for some time, but has delayed suggesting it because of his awareness of the heavy demands on the President.

The Secretary said he would try to find an opportunity to discuss the proposal with the President, pointing out, however, that at least until the end of the first week of June the President's schedule is virtually filled. With reference to Ambassador Harman's suggestion that the visit might be as early as the week of April 23, the Secretary observed that the atmosphere might not be completely favorable for a meeting so soon after the Security Council's expression of disapproval of Israel's parade to be held April 20./2/

/2/A paper prepared by Hamilton for possible use by the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs on April 14 contained a series of arguments against the proposed Kennedy-Ben Gurion meeting. (Ibid., NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 304, Ben Gurion Visit 1961)

The Secretary added that an official invitation would be difficult because it is the practice to issue them considerably in advance. He observed that most of the many statesmen recently received or who are expected in the next few months were or will be in Washington on other missions.

Ambassador Harman said that this would not be of concern to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, who would be content if arrangements and circumstances of the visit were decided according to the President's wishes.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.84A11/4-1361. Secret. Drafted by Hamilton on April 17 and approved in S on May 18. The time is taken from Secretary Rusk's Appointment Book. (Johnson Library) The source text is labeled "Part I of III." Jones forwarded two briefing memoranda to Rusk in preparation for this meeting. (Ibid., 033.84A11/4-1161)

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963: Near East, 1962-1963, V. XVIII. DC: GPO, 2000.