WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
President Reagan and King Hussein of Jordan re-affirmed their commitment to Reagan’s September 1 Middle East peace proposals and to their “common goals” after a two-hour meeting at the White House today. But a high Administration official cautioned later that no “dramatic breakthrough” was to be expected at this time.
Hussein told reporters, “we look forward to continuing our discussions in the coming days.” The Administration official announced that the King would meet again with Reagan before he leaves Washington Thursday.
But, he said at a White House briefing for the media, “I would like to introduce a note of caution. I don’t believe that as a result of the meetings we’re going to have any dramatic breakthrough and announcement … but this is certainly going to move the process forward as we see it.”
In reply to questions, the official said that the subject of Israeli settlements on the West Bank was high on King Hussein’s agenda. Asked about U.S. arms sales to Jordan, the official said so for the Administration has not received a formal request. But, “If and when the President has a request from the King … this will be given very serious consideration in consultation with Congress,” he said.
Reagan met with Hussein beginning at 11:30 this morning, followed by a working lunch. Those present during parts of their meeting included Secretary of State George Shultz, Nicholas Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, Philip Habib, the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East and other Administration officials.
Hussein met with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger earlier in the day and with Shultz for two hours yesterday instead of the scheduled one-hour meeting, at the State Department. He told reporters, after meeting with Shultz, “We are happy with the talks we had so far and are very hopeful.” The Administration official said of the Reagan-Hussein meeting that “The conversations ranged across a wide spectrum with the focus on the peace process… The question of when we can broaden the peace process is, of course, the question everyone is trying to answer. When the President and the King exchanged their assessments of progress to date, this is what its all about,” he said.
The official added, “I can’t give you any specific dates today. I can say, however, that it’s clear from the discussions between the King and the President that they both share the same sense of urgency about the need to move ahead as soon as possible.”
QUESTION OF MODALITIES
Asked if Hussein said he had to wait for the Arab League and the Palestine Liberation Organization before joining the peace process, the official said: “It’s very clear to everyone that King Hussein has been out front in support of the President’s initiative. He has publicly encouraged the PLO to state its acceptance of Israel and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 … Now the question of modalities under which the peace process will be broadened has always assumed (it would include) Jordanians plus the Palestinians — in large part this is what the PLO-Jordanian consultations are all about.”
Summing up today’s meetings, the official said: “Everything we were talking about in the context of the peace process in various meetings had to do with the prospects of creating those conditions so that Jordan and the Palestinians could join in … We are going to spend the next couple of days trying to determine this.”