U.S. Still Hopeful Hussein Will Join the Talks on Autonomy

The Reagan Administration was still hopeful today that its appeal for “broadened negotiations” would convince King Hussein of Jordan to join the talks for Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza.

State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said the Administration remained “hopeful” that the King would enter the talks. But he had no comment on reports from Amman, where Hussein has been meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, that the PLO has rejected giving its approval for Hussein to represent the Palestinians.

Romberg said he based his hope on the “serious and very well thought out proposals” made by President Reagan in his September 1 Middle East peace initiative and Hussein’s “indication” that he would like to be able to join the talks after the consultations with the PLO and Arab leaders.

But so far none of the Arab states has given public support for Hussein’s participation in the negotiations. Arafat said in Amman yesterday that there was “nothing of merit” in the Reagan plan and said he would never authorize allowing Hussein to negotiate for the PLO.

Reagan, in an apparent effort to convince Hussein telephoned the King from his home in Santa Barbara and reportedly offered to pressure Israel for a freeze on settlements if the King joined the negotiations. Romberg would not confirm this, but noted that the U.S. position on the settlements was made clear in Reagan’s September 1 speech. time, Reagan said a freeze “more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks.”

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun, in a dispatch from its Peking correspondent, reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is visiting the People’s Republic of China, urged at a press conference there yesterday that Arafat and Hussein agree to the “linkage” requested by Reagan.

Mubarak said that “the present is a golden chance” to resolve the Palestinian issue and other Mideast problems and “we must not lose this good chance.” He said the Arabs should “put the burden back on the Americans and the Israelis” so that it will be clear that failure to make progress is not the fault of the Arabs.

Mubarak was also quoted as warning “that if the talks are not entered into at an early time, the negotiations will be postponed” because of the 1984 U.S. presidential election campaign and he said continued rapid settlements on the West Bank by Israel will give it permanent control of the territory.

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