Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley crossed the Jordan River from the Israeli-occupied West Bank into the kingdom of Jordan on Wednesday and spoke of the "importance of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."
Bradley, who said he is visiting the Middle East to promote business ties between Los Angeles and countries in the region, is expected to meet today with Jordan's King Hussein, whom he described as a "man of vision and courage."
Bradley met twice with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres during his visit to Israel. Bradley said he is carrying a message of support from Peres to the Jordanian monarch, who celebrates his 50th birthday today.
Optimistic on Peace
Bradley spoke optimistically about the chances for a Middle East peace settlement during a luncheon speech to the World Affairs Council of Jordan, a group of about 20 Jordanian opinion makers.
Bradley came out strongly for Palestinian participation in the peace process.
"All the parties recognize the importance of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," he said. "The Palestinian community must be meaningfully involved in the peace process."
The mayor was critical of recent acts of Palestinian terrorism in the area, saying they have "greatly hindered the Palestinian cause."
Bradley appeared to be taking pains to balance his praise of Jordan by lauding the position of Israel. For every mention of Hussein, there was a mention of Peres.
Direct Negotiation Suggested
At one point, however, Bradley went well beyond official Jordan negotiating positions when he declared that "there is general agreement that direct negotiations between the parties offer the only avenue towards a lasting resolution of the problem." In fact, Hussein has called for an international conference to settle the problem and has rejected direct talks with Israel at this stage. The latest rejection came in a statement issued Wednesday after talks in Syria by Jordanian Prime Minister Zaid al-Rifai.
"We have good reason to hope," Bradley said, "that Israel and Jordan have begun the long journey to peace."