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King Hussein Secures Pledge of Full Debt Relief for Jordan

Jordan’s King Hussein will return back to the Middle East next week with a pledge from the Clinton administration that Congress will approve full debt relief for his country.

“I think there is a growing realization in the Congress that it’s very important for the United States to keep its commitment,” said Secretary of State Warren Christopher after meeting with Hussein on Tuesday.

“I hope it will be worked out in the very near future,” the secretary told reporters.

Debt relief was high on the agenda during Hussein’s visit to Washington this week. He arrived after receiving a peace award from the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

After meeting Hussein on Monday, President Clinton also reaffirmed his support for Jordan.

“The United States must demonstrate that it stands by those who take risks for peace,” said Michael McCurry, White House spokesman.

Clinton promised Hussein last year that if he made peace with Israel, he would ask Congress to forgive Jordan’s outstanding debt to the United States.

But budget cutters in the House of Representatives passed legislation earlier this month that approved only $50 million of relief.

Under the debt-relief formula, $50 million would forgive about $100 million. The Senate was more forgiving, approving the same $50 million plus an additional $225 million in next year’s budget. That total would forgive Jordan’s $480 million debt.

After meeting with Christopher, Hussein said of the prospects for debt relief in Congress:”I am quite satisfied the results will be positive.”

Hussein also told reporters that he believed that his county’s peace treaty with Israel signed in October, should be “an example to others.” Hussein was believed to be referring to Syria and Lebanon.

During his four days here, Hussein also met with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas.).

Hussein was also scheduled to meet with Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and members of both the House and Senate International Affairs Committees.

Secretary of Defense William Perry was scheduled to host the King at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Hussein is also reportedly seeking U.S. military aid to buy F-16 fighter jets and M1A1 Abrams tanks.

After a weekend visit to the Mayo Clinic for his annual checkup, Hussein, who has cancer, is scheduled to meet with United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

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