Carter, Hussein recover warmth in US-Jordan relations
Washington — King Hussein of Jordan and President Carter, ending their two days of official talks June 18, both appear to feel that their present disagreements on means to achieve Middle East peace have not blocked the way to achieve that peace.
"We do agree completely on the ultimate goal," President Carter told newsmen wednesday after the talks ended, "that is, the solution of the Palestinian question in all its aspects, the right of the Palestinians to self-dtermination of their own future, to the security of Israel and a comprehensive and just peace for the region."
In the talks, toasts, and speeches June 17 -- which included courteous but sharp exchanges between the King and US congressmen who questioned why he would not join the Camp David "peace process" -- he and Mr. Carter each, on different occasions, used the phrase "the rights of the Palestinians" to describe the central problem in a Middle East settlement.
None of this, nor any of the ceremony and glitter of the White House reception and state dinner for the King, were new departures in Jordanian-US relations. But they added up to a largely successful effort to recover the warmth of the old Hussein-US relationship and to have what President Carter called "a good discussion . . . much better than would have been expected."
While the discussion continued, there were loud offstage noises of discord in order areas of US-Arab, US-Israeli, and Arab-Israeli relations here. All were directly or indirectly related to the central questions, discussed by the King and President, of the occupied Jordan West Bank and Gaza and the future of the regions and their peoples in a peace settlement.
* A move to cut Israel's next annual aallocation of US aid by $150 million unless it halts new Jewish settlements in occupied Arab territory was defeated 85-to-7 in the Senate. The move has long been urged by Arab-American groups and other critics of the Israeli policy.
Frank Church (D) of Idaho, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee , said such a move would amount to "coercing" Israel.
* Senator Church and Sen. Richard Stone (D) of Florida, chairman of the Middle East subcommittee, have both raised energetic objections to a new request by Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Jordan, for extra missiles, fuel tanks, bomb racks, and other equipment for the F-15 fighters the US agreed to sell to the Saudis two years ago. Delivery of the F-15s has not yet begun.
Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron sparked his country's drive against the new deal, which Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan has indicated he wants to complete before the US presidential election in November. The ambassador telephoned the US State Department to protest that Israel could be the only possible target of the F-15s, whose range and firepower would be enhanced by the new equipment.
Israel's supporters have similarly (and often successfully) sought to limit the potency of weapons delivered to Jordan, such as fire-control and night-vision equipment on the US M-60A main battle tanks sold to Jordan in the past. King Hussein is interested in buying more, although the restrictions and delivery delays imposed earlier caused him last year order British Chieftain tanks intead.
* Closely linked with questions of Jewish settlements and ultimate future of the West Bank, raised by King Hussein here, is the region's water resources. The United States has pledged partial support for the proposed $1 billion Maqarin Dam, which Jordan wants to build on the Yarmouk river by 1982. The project would transform Jordan's arid northern regions into a huge fruit and vegetable garden. The dam also would complete irrigation of the fertile Jordan Valley, which US funds have supported since before Israel took the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Israel has riased no formal public objection to the Maqarin Dam. It has, however, indicated that its own growing water needs make it desirable to have a share in the waters the dam makes available.