Reagan Asks Aid to Jordan, Stalls on Arms
President Reagan asked Congress today to provide $250 million in economic aid to Jordan but postponed any action on new arms purchases by the Middle Eastern country.
His decision on economic aid was made public by the White House in a one-sentence announcement. If Congress gives its approval, the $250 million would be provided to King Hussein’s government before Sept. 30.
Despite the show of support for the king, who has launched a new initiative for peace negotiations with Israel, his request for jet planes, anti-aircraft missiles and other American arms was not answered.
More than 80 senators were lined up against new Jordanian weapons purchases before peace talks begin --enough to block the sale if they voted that way.
Sent to Congress
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes, briefing reporters aboard Air Force One as Reagan returned from a speaking engagement in Bloomfield, N.J., said the economic aid request was being transmitted to Congress today.
Speakes said Reagan has made no decision on military aid for Jordan, although requests from the Amman government have been pending for a number of years.
The Washington Post said today that the new economic aid is intended to encourage King Hussein to move toward direct peace talks with Israel.
Agreed With Shultz
The newspaper quoted Administration sources as saying that Reagan, over the protests of Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, agreed with Secretary of State George P. Shultz and other advisers that the Administration should postpone plans to sell Jordan up to $750 million in sophisticated weaponry.
The newspaper said the decisions were made late Wednesday after high-level White House strategy meetings, where Shultz’s position was backed by national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane and presidential assistant Edward J. Rollins.
Weinberger had argued that the Administration should go forward with the arms sale, despite warnings from Republican leaders in the Senate that such a move likely would be defeated in Congress, the report said.
It said Hussein was asked whether he wanted the Administration to proceed with the arms sale plan in view of opposition on Capitol Hill and he reportedly said it would be better to wait. Hussein told Administration officials that economic aid would be enough to show U.S. backing, the newspaper said.