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Israel Urging Hussein to Join Peace Talks with No Preconditions

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Israel is again urging Jordan’s King Hussein to get involved in the peace process.

In a message to be delivered to Hussein on Thursday, Israel apparently will reiterate its longstanding invitation for him to enter peace negotiations without preconditions.

The message, reportedly from Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir or Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, will be forwarded to the king Thursday by U.S. Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.), who is currently visiting the Middle East.

Yossi Gal, spokesman at the Israeli Embassy here, said Tuesday he did not “know anything about the specific message” contained, except to cite a similar report in the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv.

Lane Bailey, Rockefeller’s administrative assistant, said Tuesday that he has not been directly in touch with the senator, but that State Department officials in Washington told him that the message deals specifically with Hussein, not with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who expressed an interest over the weekend in visiting Israel.

Shamir, who favors direct talks between Israel and its neighbors as a means of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, has made similar overtures to Hussein in the past, according to William Pierce, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs.

“This would not be the first time the prime minister has said that,” Pierce said. He has conveyed such a message “at least one or two times over the past year.”

The prime minister is said to be currently at work on a new peace initiative.

Bailey said his boss left for Israel Dec. 23, and met with Shamir, Arens, and Vice Premier Shimon Peres earlier in the week.

Rockefeller goes to Jordan on Wednesday and will return to the United States Dec. 31, Bailey said. The meeting with Hussein is scheduled for Thursday morning. The visit is Rockefeller’s first to the Middle East, Bailey added.

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