68 Senators Seek Jordan Arms Ban : Want Hussein to Open Direct Talks With Israel
A bipartisan Senate coalition, ignoring protests from the White House, today called for a ban on the sale of sophisticated weapons to Jordan until King Hussein begins face-to-face peace talks with Israel.
“That’s no way to treat a friend,” a White House aide said, noting that the coalition--more than two-thirds of the Senate--was acting even though President Reagan has not yet proposed the sale of new military hardware to Jordan.
Sens. John Heinz (R-Pa.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said they will offer a non-binding resolution, backed by 66 other senators, to prevent any sales until Jordan enters direct negotiations with Israel. Heinz, however, told the White House that he would not press for its immediate adoption.
House Bill Passed
The House has already passed a foreign aid bill that includes a similar ban unless Reagan affirms that Jordan has agreed to direct talks.
The White House immediately objected to such conditions. Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said, “Any legislation of this type would prejudge and impose new inhibitions on moves toward peace.”
Speakes said that during Hussein’s visit to Washington last week, Reagan told the king that he “would be able to count on the United States for assistance” in assuring Jordan’s security while it conducts “an active, assertive peace policy.”
At the State Department, spokesman Edward Djerejian suggested that the Administration is moving toward proposing the arms sale to Jordan, despite opposition from the senators and Israel.
No Decision Made
While Djerejian said “no formal decision” on a sale has been made, he told reporters progress in the quest for peace “entails risks. When our friends are prepared to take those risks, they should be able to count on us.”
During his talks in Washington, Hussein signaled that he and the Palestine Liberation Organization are prepared to open Middle East peace talks under the “umbrella” of the United Nations.
Heinz objected to the “umbrella” format because it would allow the Soviet Union, a member of the U.N. Security Council, to participate.
“Now is not the time to let the Soviets in the back door,” Heinz said. “King Hussein knows the way to Jerusalem. We cannot allow him the luxury of a detour through Moscow because he is unwilling to meet with Israeli negotiators.”