Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dirksen and ARAMCO

The Arabs, Israel, and Postwar U.S. Policy

As the United States sought to outmaneuver the Soviets in the UN, the President also had to consider the state of the post-conflict Middle East. In this conversation with Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, Johnson appreciated the intra-Arab conflicts but appeared far too optimistic about the prospect of an early diplomatic settlement.

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President Johnson and Everett Dirksen, 22 June 1967, 10.45pm

WH6706.02 PNO 2, 11912-11913

Dirksen: I’m on a pay phone.

President Johnson: Yeah. Yeah. Go ahead.

Dirksen: these people I had dinner with—one of them just got in from Paris tonight. He is the executive vice president of Mobil Oil.

President Johnson: Yes.

Dirksen: [with Johnson concurring] They have a 10 percent interest in ARAMCO. Some of their people were in attendance when, yesterday morning, Faisal of Saudi Arabia had a meeting with five or six of the foreign ministers—including Syria, Algeria, Jordan, and Egypt.

They tried, of course, to sell him a bill of goods—that we had started the Israelis, that we were in the [unclear]—

President Johnson: Yeah, I read the report on that.

Dirksen: All that sort of thing.

President Johnson: I read the report on it. We got an intelligence report on it.

Dirksen: Yeah. Faisal just laughed them off.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Dirksen: Said it was sheer nonsense.

President Johnson: That’s right. Nonsense is the word he used.

Dirksen: Yeah. Now, the one thing that he is interested in, and that Kuwait is interested in, was that fifth item of yours in your statement of principles—namely, territorial integrity.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Dirksen: Now, Brown mentioned that (George Brown) in his statement before the UN. Arthur [Goldberg] mentioned it, too. But they think that it’s got to have some emphasis in order to persuade these people over there that we mean business in that field.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Dirksen: It’s just a question of how far you go. I think you’ve got to be rather cautious about it.

President Johnson: [with Dirksen concurring throughout] Well, we’ve talked to—we have talked to Kosygin about that specifically. And we don’t think that the Israelis are at all interested in Syria’s boundaries. We don’t think that they’re interested in the Egyptian boundaries. The Jordan thing we hope is negotiable.

As a matter of fact, I asked them yesterday to encourage the King of Jordan to come on over here.

The Israelis have said, in effect, that they’re not after this Syrian territory, Egyptian territory. They just want to live and let live. They, I think, would be pretty willing to follow recommendations to give that back and get out of there.

But, on Jordan, they hope that’s negotiable. This little area there—they hope that they can do it to the satisfaction of the Jordanians themselves, and our people think they can.

So I think that we have some chance on it.

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