Shultz Decries Move to Block Arms to Jordan
Secretary of State George P. Shultz said Tuesday that congressional attempts to block arms sales to Jordan will hurt the chances for Mideast peace by “sticking a finger in King Hussein’s eye” just after he has said he is ready for serious negotiations with Israel.
Talking to reporters aboard his Air Force plane on a flight here from Washington to attend a semiannual meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers, Shultz hinted strongly that the Reagan Administration will soon propose a new arms sale to Jordan.
Responding to reports that a bipartisan group of 70 senators plans to introduce a resolution opposing any new weapons sales to Jordan until the Amman government engages in direct talks with Israel, Shultz said, “I think it is not a service to the peace process to do that right now.
In Direction of Peace
“King Hussein has taken some important initiatives that are positive and that move in the direction of peace and move in the direction of direct negotiations, that employ the word non-belligerency, " he said. “To greet those moves by the Senate sticking its finger in his eye doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly good thing for the United States to do.
“So, I’m unhappy about the broad, bipartisan effort to stick the Congress’ finger in King Hussein’s eye,” Shultz added. “However, they are a separate and more-than-equal branch of the government, so they do whatever they want to do.”
Shultz stopped short of urging Israel to mute its longstanding opposition to the sale of advanced weapons to Arab states, including Jordan, that have not signed a peace treaty with Jerusalem.
“The Israelis have to look at matters from their own standpoint; I respect that,” he said. “I’m not going to try to tell them what to do. They’ll decide for themselves. We try to keep them well-informed of our views and what we’re doing, and (we) have their suggestions and counsel in mind.”
Weapons Not Specified
Although Shultz declined to specify which weapons the Administration is ready to sell to Jordan, he left little doubt that an arms sale package will soon be sent to Capitol Hill for approval.
All Middle East arms sales have been suspended since February while the Administration conducted a comprehensive study of the security situation in the region. Shultz said that the study is “basically finished” and that Congress will be told about its conclusions this week.
He said Jordan faces threats to its security from violent parties (apparently a reference to Syria and Libya) that “oppose King Hussein’s efforts to get into direct negotiations and work out peace with Israel.
“So there is a security problem,” he said. “It isn’t imaginary, and it’s present right now.”
In Washington, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Times that he expects the Administration to submit a request shortly for additional economic and military aid for Jordan.
Missiles for Syrian Border
He did not disclose the specifics of the anticipated request, although it would likely include missiles for increased defense along the Syrian border. He indicated that the arms list may be submitted in the next few weeks in order to be added to a supplemental appropriation for the current fiscal year.
Shultz traveled to this seaside resort near Lisbon to confer with the foreign ministers of the other NATO countries about nuclear weapons policy in anticipation of the expiration at the end of this year of the unratified second strategic arms limitation agreement.
President Reagan on Monday postponed until next week the announcement of his decision on continued U.S. compliance with the pact pending receipt of advice from the NATO allies.
Shultz said he will outline “the options as we see it” during a closed-door session of the foreign ministers Thursday. He said he will cable the comments of the allied leaders to the White House after the meeting so that Reagan can make a final decision in time to report to Congress on Monday.
Mideast Peace Prospects
Much of Shultz’s airborne press conference focused on the prospect for Middle East peace in the wake of Hussein’s statement in Washington last week that Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization are ready to talk peace with Israel at a proposed international conference.
Although Israel flatly opposes such a conference and the United States is very skeptical about one, Shultz lavished praise on the king’s initiative. He urged all sides to concentrate on the progress represented by Hussein’s proposal rather than on the vast gap that remains between Jordan and Israel.
He made clear his belief that Israel, in its reluctance to accept Hussein’s latest proposal, is being overly cautious. But in discussing the Israeli role, he avoided the kind of harsh words he directed at Congress.