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Carter, Hussein Reportedly ‘clear Air’ at First Meeting

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American officials who attended the first of a series of meetings at the White House today between President Carter and King Hussein of Jordan, said that the discussions “cleared the air” between the two leaders who have not met for more than two years. But they stopped short of saying that the differences between them over the Camp David peace process have been bridged.

“While no one would claim there are still not differences in approach” toward resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, the discussions “served to clear the air and place behind them what strains and difficulties had been occasioned by the differences of views,” an official said.

One senior White House official, when asked if Jordan now shares the U.S. view of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, replied that “It is our judgement that Jordan does and it makes eminent good judgement it should.”

White House Press Secretary Jody Powell said that the initial Carter-Hussein meeting “contributed markedly” to easing the strains between the President and the King. Asked if the strains had vanished, Powell replied, “There was no evidence of strain in the conversations at all. It was a very open and frank discussion” and was held in “a very cordial manner and in good humor.”

Powell opened his remarks to reporters by saying that “the objective of both countries is peace” and that “the focus is upon the ultimate objective by both sides which is a comprehensive peace settlement with dignity, security and justice for all parties.

AID NOT DISCUSSED

Powell said there was no discussion of aid “military or otherwise” at this morning’s meeting. At the State Department, however, officials said the discussions between Carter and Hussein would cover “a wide range of subjects of mutual interest and security.”

State Department spokesman Thomas Reston noted “the long-standing military supply and training relationship” between the U.S. and Jordan’s. armed forces. He noted also that U.S. military leaders are in “continuing contact” with respect to Jordan’s military needs. He pointed out that Jordan’s military requirements were discussed last April in Amman by the Joint Military Commission. Reston described the commission as “the main forum for specific Jordanian requests.”

He said the general situation in the Middle East as it may affect the security of the U.S. and its allies would be discussed during Hussein’s visit to Washington which will continue through Saturday. But he did not know “what subjects in particular the King might wish to raise.”

Hussein was greeted officially by Carter in a military ceremony on the White House lawn this morning. Carter’s welcoming remarks were carefully worded and the response by Hussein, who was accompanied by his wife. Queen Noor, was even less specific. The impression was given that the groundwork for an agreement between the two on how to reach a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict has yet to be established. Carter spoke of the “long years of consultation and cooperation” between the U.S. and Jordan. Hussein said “My government and my people are proud that we hold to the same principles and have always upheld the same ideas” that are maintained by the U.S. “the greatest nation in our time.”

SAUDIS SEEK NEW EQUIPMENT

At the last two meetings of the Joint Military Commission, Jordanian tank purchases from the U.S. were discussed. The State Department spokesman would not give details but said Congress would be consulted on Jordanian purchases. Reston’s discussion of the U.S. Jordanian military relationship followed his response to questions about reports today that Saudi Arabia is seeking bomb rocks and fuel extension equipment for the 60 F-15 jet fighters the U.S. sold to that country in 1978.

Sen. Frank Church (D. Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today with respect to the reported Saudi request that the Administration had committed itself, when it first proposed the sale of F-15 to Saudi Arabia, that it would not sell equipment which would change the interceptor role of that aircraft. Administration sources said that the F-15 is primarily designed for air defense missions and that its capabilities would not exceed its U.S. Air Force role at the time which was air-to-air combat.

Reston said today that “the ongoing dialogue concerning equipment appropriate to Saudi Arabia’s defense needs is sensitive to changes in regional security.” He spoke in that connection of the threat posed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Reston emphasized that no decision has been made on the Saudi request and that “we would consult closely with Congress on the appropriateness of the equipment.”

Reston said he may comment later on whether Saudi Arabia would use its F-15s against-Israel. He also said he may comment later on the view reportedly expressed by officials at the Jordanian Embassy here that King Hussein may raise with President Carter what the officials claimed were repeated violations of Jordanian air space by Israeli war planes. There have been no reports here of any such violations.

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