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John F. Kennedy Administration: Telegram on U.S. Attempts to Reduce Tensions Over Jordan River

(February 24, 1962)

This telegram deals with the U.S. effort to find a more equitable manner of distribution relating to the Jordan River and UN consideration of Israeli actions.

1475. Department informed UK EmbOff February 23 of following steps being undertaken in effort reduce current tensions re Jordan waters problem:

1. Department February 23 suggested informally to Israel Embassy that GOI might usefully consider means whereby in press and in UN corridors it could spread word in defense of its own actions by citing (a) intention adhere allocation under equitable (i.e., Johnston) plan for unified development, (b) willingness talk unified development with Arabs at any time, (c) readiness accept international supervision of water programs and usage if Arabs do likewise, and (d) contributions its programs and research are making to Jordan Valley's water resources.

2. Embassy Beirut has already given GOI strong counsel re need for moderation.

3. Ambassador Macomber has instructions for talks with Jordanians.

4. Department intends speak to UAR Embassy February 26 pointing out in low-key that Cairo propaganda stimulation in large measure responsible for current buildup of tensions and continuation such stimulation hardly consistent with UAR statements re desire put all aspects Palestine problem "in icebox".

5. We are instructing Ambassador Knight (separate telegram)/2/ re oral reply to be made to Prime Minister Dawalibi. We hope avoid having make reply in writing but may later be forced to this depending nature USSR response.

Department suggested UK consider delaying for few days any reply to Syrians. This consistent with what we conceive to be joint US-UK interest in scrupulous avoidance of conspicuous public role that would add to tension and desirability keeping our reactions as casual as possible.

UK EmbOff said he thought FonOff would share Department views on handling this problem and would concur in Department suggestion.

During same conversation Department informed UK EmbOff of general nature Bowles-Nasser talks on basis summary telegrams from Cairo.


/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/2-2462. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Crawford, cleared by Sisco, and approved by Grant. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem, Jidda, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv, Bucharest, and USUN.

/2/Document 198.

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