Hussein looks to Europe for lever in Mideast negotiations
A rapid visit by Jordan's King Hussein to seek support in the apparently stalled Middle East peace effort has once again highlighted Europe's subsidiary and ambiguous role in this diplomatic process.Skip to next paragraph
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The visit to Belgium and Spain, which began Thursday, is viewed as well timed. It comes just before the King meets again with Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to discuss possible links between a Palestinian entity and Jordan. And it is to be followed soon by other similar overtures to Europe from Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
These visits to various European capitals are seen as a bid by all sides to seek whatever support Europe might bring for their views concerning the complex Middle East talks.
Most European and other diplomatic sources emphasize, however, that Europe has little direct influence on participants in the region. It is generally regarded as more useful, these officials say, as another element of pressure on American policy, which is regarded by all as the most important.
In general, Western Europe has gone beyond US views in criticizing Israel and supporting the Arab and Palestinian stance. France and Italy are also part of the multinational force in Lebanon. Other European troops are involved in the Sinai and with United Nations forces in Lebanon.
Diplomatic sources indicate that during his talks with Belgian and European Community leaders here, Hussein will seek backing for a link between the Arab League's peace plan and President Reagan's efforts. The King is known to feel that time may be running out for a Mideast breakthrough. He is said to believe the US presidential election campaign will soon hamper US ability to take an initiative.