LONDON (Mar. 24)
King Hussein of Jordan asked Foreign Minister Abdel Moneim Rifai to form a new government today following the resignation of Prime Minister Bahjat al-Talhouni and his cabinet. The reshuffling was seen by some observers here as a move by the King to establish a government more amenable to a political solution of the Middle East crisis, “Mr. Rifai was said to favor a political solution, an approach Mr. al-Talhouni reportedly opposed. The former Prime Minister was said to have been at odds with the King for some time over foreign policy and reportedly objected to a confrontation between King Hussein’s troops and Arab guerrillas in Amman last November. The government change came as the King prepared for a visit to Washington April 8-9. Sources here said Foreign Minister Rifai’s more moderate views were well known in Washington and at the United Nations.
(There was no official evaluation in Jerusalem today of the change in Jordan’s government. One source said, however, that the replacement of Mr. al-Talhouni with someone more moderate might be a political maneuver by King Hussein to prove his good intentions on the eve of his visit to Washington and to show that he was still in control of the country. It has been known in Israel for some time that King Hussein planned to replace Mr. al-Talhouni but when possible successors were discussed it was not Mr. Rifai but such pro-Egyptian politicians as Suleiman Nabulsi who were most frequently mentioned. King Hussein was known to have disagreed with his Prime Minister on the issue of aid to Palestinian guerrillas. Mr. Talhouni was for all-out support while the King appeared to fear that such a course would draw retaliation from Israel, sources here said.