WASHINGTON (Aug. 18)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger is expected to return to the Middle East to attempt to work out a disengagement agreement between Israel and Jordan as he did between Israel and Syria and Egypt. This was the view in United States government circles as King Hussein of Jordan ended today three days of talks with President Ford and Kissinger which were termed as a “constructive contribution” toward the next stage of negotiations for a Middle East peace settlement.
In a joint statement issued today by Ford and Hussein, the President stressed the continuity of U.S. policy in the Middle East and affirmed that the U.S. will continue its determined efforts to help achieve a peace settlement in the area. In the communique, the two leaders also said:
“The discussions between his majesty and the President and the Secretary of State were a constructive contribution to the consultations now underway looking toward the next stage in negotiations for a just and durable peace in the Middle East. It was agreed that the consultations will continue with a view to addressing at an appropriately early date the issues of particular concern to Jordan, including a Jordanian-Israeli disengagement agreement.”
U.S.-JORDAN JOINT COMMISSION ON TRADE
The communique also revealed that the joint commission on aid to Jordan established during President Nixon’s visit to Amman June 18 and headed by Kissinger and Jordanian Premier Zaid al-Rifai has held several meetings this month and will sponsor a meeting on economic development, trade and investments before the end of the year to explore the possibility of private American investments in Jordan’s economic development.
The commission, according to the communique, will also discuss soon, military and supply problems and review the continuation of American assistance to Jordan’s armed forces and to advance planning for future assistance.
Hussein, who left for Amman today, was the first head of state to visit Washington since Ford became President. His visit was one of a series of meetings in Washington by Arab and Israeli officials with Kissinger in an attempt to work out the next step in the negotiations process. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy is scheduled to return to Washington from New York, tomorrow, and Abdel Halim Khadda, Syria’s Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, is leaving Damascus tomorrow for a three-day visit to Washington. Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin is scheduled to come to Washington soon, possibly next month.
HUSSEIN, FAHMY COOLNESS NOTED
Meanwhile observers were commenting over the failure of Fahmy and Hussein to meet while both were in Washington. In fact, Fahmy who had been in Washington for over a week left the capital on Thursday, the day Hussein arrived and is returning here after Hussein’s departure. Fahmy is scheduled to sign tomorrow a joint statement with Kissinger on an Egyptian-American accord regarding economic, scientific and cultural collaboration. The statement was to have been signed last Wednesday but was delayed to give the Egyptians more time to discuss details.
One reason for the coolness between Hussein and Fahmy may have been the Egyptian’s statement Thursday in a television interview that Hussein’s jurisdiction over Palestinians extends only to those Jordanians who live on the East Bank of the Jordan River. In an interview yesterday with the press at Blair House, Hussein stressed that the Palestinians on the West Bank have Jordanian citizenship and pointed out that Egypt never granted Egyptian citizenship to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
In the interview, Hussein said he would not return to the Geneva peace conference unless there is some progress toward an Israeli pullback from the West Bank. He rejected the so-called Allon Plan under which Jordan would get administrative control of the West Bank while Israel would continue to maintain troops there.
But Hussein stressed that he would not negotiate for Israeli withdrawal only to turn the West Bank over to the Palestine Liberation Organization. He repeated his pledge that following Israeli withdrawal he would hold an internationally supervised referendum to see whether the West Bank residents wanted to remain under Jordanian rule, form a federation with Jordan or become independent.