WASHINGTON (Oct. 1)
President Reagan and King Hussein of Jordan agreed after their 45-minute White House talk yesterday on the need for direct negotiations to end the Arab-Israel conflict. But there was no indication that the United States and Jordan had moved closer toward resolving their differences on how to reach this goal.
“All of us, Jordan the United States and Israel share the same realistic objective — direct negotiations under appropriate auspices before the end of this year,” Reagan said as he bid farewell to Hussein on the south lawn of the White House.
The President stressed that the way to achieve “peace and stability” for all nations in the Mideast “is through direct negotiations on the basic UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.”
But Hussein made clear that he still insists, as he did when he was in Washington last May, on an international “umbrella” for any negotiations. He stressed “Jordan’s commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict within the context of an international conference to implement Security Council Resolution: 242.”
“SOME HEADWAY” HAS BEEN MADE
A Senior Administration official, briefing reporters on the talks, said that “some headway” had been made, but he refused to go into details. However, he indicated that it dealt with the international conference sought by Jordan.
Reagan seemed even more positive in his remarks. “There are complex and sensitive issues which must be resolved before actual negotiations can begin,” he said. “But I believe these issues can be resolved.”
Hussein, in his meeting with Reagan, reiterated his position that an international conference must include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, one of which is the Soviet Union. The senior official said that Reagan noted the legitimate objection of Israel to Soviet involvement since Moscow does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel.
But as late as a week ago, following Reagan’s meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the same official reiterated the Administration’s position that Soviet efforts in the Mideast have been harmful, not helpful. However, this came before Reagan’s upbeat meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last Friday. The Reagan-Hussein talks yesterday came in the wake of the President’s notification to Congress Friday that he plans to sell Jordan $1.5 billion to $1.9 billion in arms, including advanced aircraft and missiles.
With Congress strongly opposed to the sale, the Administration is trying to demonstrate that progress is being made in the peace process. At the same time, it is arguing that the U.S. must provide the arms to encourage Jordan which, Reagan said yesterday, “has been moving steadily and courageously forward in the search for a peaceful negotiated settlement of the conflict in the Middle East.
REAGAN DEFENDS ARMS SALE TO JORDAN
While Reagan stressed that his talks with Hussein centered on peace, not arms, he noted that he had announced the proposed sale. “These arms are important in meeting Jordan’s proven defense needs and as evidence that those who seek peace will not be left at the mercy of those who oppose it.” Hussein was presumably making the same point in his meetings today with members of the Senate and the House.
The Administration is also pointing to the fact that Hussein has now said publicly, both in his speech to the UN General Assembly last week and at the White House yesterday, that he is for direct negotiations with Israel. Both Reagan and Hussein stressed Jordan’s opposition to terrorism.
Reagan noted the “risk” Jordan was taking by entering the peace process. “Jordan has not wavered from this course despite the terrorist attacks against its diplomats and its interests abroad and the threat of worse to come,” he said.
Hussein stressed Jordan’s “unwavering position in condemnation of terrorism irrespective of its nature and source. Jordan condemns violence and is committed to a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict. We are prepared to join all parties in pursuing a negotiated settlement in an environment free of belligerent and hostile acts.”
QUESTION OF THE PLO
This still leaves the question of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The senior official said yesterday that Hussein still sees as “essential” the steps he has outlined leading to direct negotiations.
As outlined by Hussein, the PLO would meet the U.S. conditions of acceptance of Israel’s right to exist and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 after the U.S. meets with a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
But the U.S. has refused to meet with the joint delegation because most of the seven persons proposed by Hussein for the Palestinian representatives are linked to the PLO. Secretary of State George Shultz continued to rule out the PLO in his appearance on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“To the extent that the PLO remains dedicated to the so-called armed struggle, which so far as I can see they still do, it doesn’t seem to me that they belong at the bargaining table,” Shultz said. “If they change their posture, that’s a different matter.”
The Administration official stressed yesterday that the Administration’s effort is to find a process that will lead directly to negotiations between Israel and the Jordanians and Palestinians. If any “headway” was made yesterday it may become clearer when Reagan meets with Israel Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir next week and with Premier Shimon Peres later this month.