WASHINGTON (Aug. 16)
Jordan’s King Hussein left a meeting with President Bush on Thursday without giving any clear indication whether he would close the Jordanian port of Aqaba to Iraqi trade.
“I’m not saying that we have altered our position in this regard,” Hussein said after a meeting at Bush’s vacation home in Kennebunkport, Maine, that lasted two hours and 15 minutes.
He said Jordan wants to seek clarification from the United Nations as to what its obligations are under the sanctions the Security Council imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2.
“This is a question of detail the (Jordanian) government is dealing with,” the king said.
At a White House news conference Tuesday, as Hussein was flying to the United States. Bush made clear he expects Jordan to abide by the U.N. sanctions, designed to bar goods from reaching Iraq and prevent oil from leaving Iraq or Kuwait.
Bush warned he would order a blockade of Aqaba “if it’s a hole through which commerce flows (to Iraq) in an otherwise tight net.”
Hussein, who earlier had been believed to be carrying a message from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Bush, denied Thursday he had delivered any message. “I’m not talking on behalf of any-one in the area,” he said.
The Jordanian king, who has personal friendships with both Bush and the Iraqi president, has sought to mediate the crisis. “I tried my utmost to see what could be done,” he said.
He was escorted to his helicopter by Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. But Bush, who is reportedly disappointed with his old friend, remained inside his home when the king left.
BUSH AND IRAQI TRADE INSULTS
Meanwhile, Bush and his Iraqi foe have traded long-distance insults, each calling the other a liar.
“It is Saddam who lied to his Arab neighbors,” who “invaded an Arab state” and who “now threatens the Arab nation,” Bush said Wednesday in a speech at the Pentagon.
Hussein of Iraq replied Thursday in an open letter to Bush, read over Baghdad television. He accused the United States of trying to take over Arab oil.
The Arabs, he told Bush, “are not those rulers who serve you, and capitulate to your orders, and take part with you in plundering the (Arab) nation’s wealth,” the Iraqi leader said.
In the 15-minute statement, broadcast just before Bush and King Hussein met, the Iraqi president again called on Arabs to wage a holy war against foreign troops and depicted himself as the defender of the Arab poor.
But in his Pentagon speech, Bush observed that the call for a holy war, or jihad, came from “the man who used poison gas against the men, women and children of his own country, who invaded Iran in a war that cost the lives of more than a half-million Moslems, and who now plunders Kuwait.”
Bush also said Iraq is one of the “have” nations, not among the “have-nots,” as Saddam Hussein was claiming.
“But thanks to Saddam’s ruinous policies of wars against other Moslems, he, Saddam Hussein, has transformed wealth into poverty,” Bush said.