WASHINGTON (Mar. 13)
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger denied today that the U.S. has “informally”promised King Hussein of Jordan sophisticated weapons if he joins the Middle East peace process as outlined in President Reagan’s September I peace initiative,
“There is no way that anybody can formally promise anything that requires the approval of Congress,” Weinberger said on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program. But he said the U.S. has told Jordan “we agree basically with the idea that they do need more modern weapons, they need air defense weapons.”
He said Jordan believes it is “threatened” by “number of countries, including Syria and Iran, and they do have genuine validated military needs for more air defense and more weapons to protect their own country.” Congress, in opposing weapons for Jordan, has listed as one of the principal reasons Hussein’s refusal to join the peace process.
SHULTZ SHOWS IMPATIENCE WITH JORDAN
Secretary of State George Shultz, in an inter view with The Washington Post published today, said it was time for Jordan to decide whether to join the talks or not. “Basically, I think it’s time to move,” Shultz told the Post.” I don’t want to set a deadline or anything like that, but I think that there has been a great deal of discussion. I don’t know that there are more facts to be found,” he said.
Shultz’s remarks were seen as the first official public display of impatience by the U.S. with Hussein’s failure to make a decision on joining the talks. The Jordanian ruler first set a deadline of March I to make a decision and then advanced it to sometime later this month.
Shultz’s remarks, appearing on the morning of his meeting here with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, could also be seen as an effort to convince the Israelis that the Reagan Administration was exerting pressure on the Arabs, not just Israel. (See P.3 for Shultz-Shamir meeting.)
OFFER TO SHARE MILITARY INFORMATION
Meanwhile, reports appeared today that Weinberger has offered Israel a new set of arrangements for sharing military information and other intelligence gained by Israel during the war in Lebanon last summer. Weinberger had previously rejected conditions demanded by the Israelis for such sharing.
According to the reports, the Israelis have rejected Weinberger’s new proposals because they do not prevent information provided by Israel from being shared with America’s allies in Europe from where it could fall into Soviet hands and be passed on to the Arabs.
The Israelis, on the other hand, are said to be anxious for an intelligence sharing agreement as a means of arresting the deterioration of relations between Jerusalem and the Reagan Administration.
Weinberger reportedly proposed that the existing two dozen or more intelligence sharing agreements with Israel remain in effect; that Israel turn over to the U.S. all information it gained from ground and aerial warfare in Lebanon; and that any disagreements or problems arising from the information sharing would be settled by discussions.