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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Memorandum on Signing of Jordan Arms Package

(March 26, 1968)

This memo from Under Secretary for Political Affairs Walt Rostow to President Johnson discusses an arms package for Jordan and shows the Administration's concern for American Jewish reaction.


Signing Jordan Arms Package

After weeks of negotiation, the Jordan Arms package is ready for signing. Nick Katzenbach would like to authorize Ambassador Symmes to sign tomorrow but does not want to go ahead without our OK. The plan is to do this without publicity for the moment.

As you know, this negotiation has gone on for some weeks. It just happens that all the details are now wrapped up. It may not be the best time in view of continuing terrorist attacks and last week's Israeli raid. However, there may not be any good time, and the main purpose of this exercise is to bolster Hussein. The equipment involved in this deal will not arrive in Jordan for some time.

For balance, Luke Battle has rescheduled the signing of the Israeli PL-480 agreement for this Friday morning. (2) That will get some publicity.

My own feeling is that our public, especially the Jewish community, has accepted the resumption of military sales to Jordan. I doubt that the simple act of signing will cause much additional reaction, even if it leaks out. The press already writes as if the deal has long since been wrapped up.

Therefore, I recommend that we tell State to go ahead. But I do not wish to do so without informing you.1


1The president checked the approval line. The memorandum of understanding and protocol were signed in Amman on March 28 by Prime Minister Talhouni and Ambassador Symmes.

Sources: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, V. 20, Arab-Israeli Dispute 1967-1968. DC: GPO, 2001.