Jordan’s King Hussein, after a 45-minute meeting today with President Reagan, said he wants to reach a settlement with Israel but he continued to insist that the peace talks be held in an international conference.
Such a conference would give the Soviet Union a direct role in shaping the future of the Middle East, an idea that both the United States and Israel have opposed in the past.
However, a senior Administration official said after today’s meeting that some “headway” had been made on how an international conference might be structured. The official refused to elaborate.
There was no indication whether the White House meeting helped ease the other major roadblock to opening negotiations--Hussein’s proposal that Palestinians tied to the Palestine Liberation Organization participate in pre-negotiation talks with U.S. officials.
Jordan Acts ‘Courageously’
Still, Reagan called the meeting “very productive” and said Jordan is moving “courageously forward” in the search for peace.
“The time to begin is now,” Reagan said. He added that he is confident that the issues standing in the way of a settlement can be resolved.
Defending his $1.55-billion arms package for Jordan, which faces stiff opposition in Congress, Reagan said he has assured Hussein that he can “count on us.”
The Administration contends that the arms, including 40 advanced jet fighter planes and Hawk mobile anti-aircraft missiles, are essential to defend Jordan against Syria, an Arab neighbor supplied with weapons from the Soviet Union.
“Those who seek peace will not be left at the mercy of those who oppose it,” Reagan said.
The king called the discussion in the Oval Office “frank and honest” and said he is committed “to a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”