WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres, with President Reagan standing at his side, called on Jordan today to enter into direct negotiations with Israel without any preconditions as soon as possible.
“We are ready to meet without preconditions, without losing time, and at any suitable location, be it in Amman, in Jordan or Washington,” Peres said in his farewell statement on the South Lawn of the White House after his hour-long meeting with Reagan Declaring that Israel has its “hand of peace extended across the Jordan,” Peres said “we are prepared to consider any proposal put forward by the Jordanians.”
Reagan said that he was pleased with his talks with Peres, and with King Hussein of Jordan last month who, he said, also expressed his willingness for “negotiations with Israel promptly and directly.” He said the position of the two countries “gives the United States confidence that the hurdles to peace can be overcome.”
Reagan noted that “we recognize there are obstacles, significant obstacles, to peace. But we also recognize that there is a better opportunity for peace now than there has been for some time and a better chance than we may have for some time to come.”
A senior Administration official, briefing reporters later, said that Reagan still believes that negotiations can begin before the end of the year. He conceded, however, that the same problems exist, including Hussein’s demand for an international conference and the make-up of the Palestinian representation for a joint delegation with Jordan.
Both Reagan and Peres spoke of the need to combat terrorism and to prevent terrorism from damaging the peace process. Peres noted that the hope is that “peace would destroy terrorism before terrorism would destroy peace.” Peres also praised Reagan for his “correct initiative and decisive action” in dealing with last week’s hijacking of the Italian liner, the Achille Lauro. Reagan praised the Israeli government for its economic reforms.
The Administration official noted that although the bulk of today’s White House conversation was on the peace process, there was a great deal of discussion of Israel’s economic situation. Reagan again reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and well-being.
The Administration official said that the President reiterated the U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military superiority over any combination of enemies. He said that the U.S. reiterated its plans to sell arms to Jordan, and Peres repeated his opposition to such sales.
During the White House meeting, Reagan was presented an honorary doctorate by the Weizmann Institute of Science of Rehovot.