Ronald Reagan Administration: Press Briefing With King Hussein
(May 29, 1985)
The President. I have just concluded a very useful meeting and lunch with King Hussein. We all recognize that the positive atmosphere which has developed in the Middle East recently can be credited in great measure to His Majesty King Hussein. Steps he's taken over the last year gave new momentum to the search for peace.
Our discussions today have provided further evidence of Jordan's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflicts, which should prompt a sense of gratitude from men of good will everywhere.
The United States has long played a central role in the Middle East peace process. We're proud of what we've helped accomplish, and we look forward to continuing to make meaningful contributions. But we hope that His Majesty's courageous steps forward can lead to direct negotiations between the parties, based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, by the end of this year. And we'll do our part to help bring this about.
Our goal remains a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace which will satisfy the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and provide for the security of all states in the region, including Israel.
We recognize Jordan's economic and security needs. And in the spirit of working together, I have told the King that we will be able to count on the United States for assistance in addressing problems which Jordan may face in those areas.
We're pleased and proud to have had His Majesty here with us today.
The King. Thank you very much, indeed, Mr. President, for your kind words.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have had a full, friendly, and useful discussion with the President on all issues of mutual concern.
Regarding the prospects of peace in our area, I have told the President that a just, comprehensive, and durable peace in the Middle East should secure the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right of self-determination within the context of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation.
I have also assured the President that on the basis of the Jordan-PLO accord of 11th February and as a result of my recent talks with the PLO and in view of our genuine desire for peace, we are willing to negotiate, within the context of an international conference, a peaceful settlement on the basis of the pertinent United Nations resolutions, including Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
We are offering a unique opportunity for peace which might not be with us for long. I hope the United States, under the courageous and dedicated leadership of President Reagan, will find a way to seize this opportunity and respond positively to our peace efforts. The active and balanced role of the United States is an essential element for the success of the peace process.
I should like to thank the President for his hospitality and kind words and wish him continued good health and every success.
Q. Your Majesty, a question, please.
The King. Go ahead.
Q. If you can hear me, sir, can you explain, please, why Jordan needs an international conference in order to negotiate with Israel? Couldn't it do it directly? Could you elaborate a little on what your thinking is?
The King. In that regard, it is our hope that an international conference would enable the parties to the conflict to negotiate the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle East.
We need the international umbrella to offer us the opportunity to negotiate. And when I speak of negotiations, I obviously mean negotiations amongst the party to the conflict -- in other words, negotiations between the Arab side, in this case a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, with Israel on the other side.
Q. Mr. President, would the United States participate?
The President. Would we what?
Q. What is your view of such an international conference?
The President. This is under discussion, and we have not resolved some differences that we have in views on this. But we're going to certainly continue in these discussions.
Q. Well, what are the objections, Mr. President -- --
Q. What are the problems that remain, the definitions of Palestinian representation in the delegation? Have you agreed on the Palestinian representation in the delegation, especially Jordan said PLO should be represented?
The President. We have made it very plain heretofore, and nothing has changed, with regard to those conditions under which we would meet with the PLO.
Q. Your Majesty, if I may ask, whether it's an umbrella of an international conference or not, you would be negotiating directly with Israel for the first time, would you not?
The King. Well, I can cite an example of the international conference of 1973. We met, and negotiations were carried out between the Arab side and Israel.
Q. So, you're saying this is not new. This is not a different form of direct negotiation?
The King. This is, I believe, a last chance for peace. We are approaching it, as I've explained, determined to do all we could for the establishment of a just and durable peace in our area. And obviously, when we speak of negotiations, we speak of them within the context of an international conference, but negotiations amongst the parties to the conflict.
Q. On a nonbelligerent basis?
The King. Well, we certainly are approaching the whole issue not in a belligerent fashion. I'm almost sure of that.
Q. Your Majesty, has the PLO agreed to this framework, sir? Has the PLO agreed to this framework?
The King. What I have said in my statement is the result of my discussions with the PLO, yes.
Q. Your Majesty, are you committed to going forward with this this year?
Q. Talks can take place this year?
The King. I am certainly hoping very, very much indeed that we will see some progress this year, yes.
Q. Mr. President, have they come up with a Palestinian delegation acceptable to you?
The President. This is all being worked on right now with us -- or together. This is what we're discussing.
Q. Mr. President, the King has said that this opportunity will only be with us for a short time. In view of the situation in Lebanon, is there not something that the United States can do immediately to speed this process?
The President. Who's he asking? Which one of us -- --
Q. Mr. President, the King has said that the opportunity for peace may be a very short one. In view of the situation in Lebanon, is there not something the United States can do to speed the process -- and do something immediately?
The President. We think that the situation in Lebanon with regard to the peace process will be resolved completely when Israel has made its complete withdrawal from Lebanon.
Q. Mr. President, do you want -- --
Q. But what about the Soviets?
The President. Wait a minute, there's a young lady over here's been trying for -- --
Q. Mr. President, do you feel the need to send a new envoy to the area to be able to continue all these negotiations between the different parties?
The President. Well, no. The people we have working there are going to continue.
Q. What about the Soviets?
Q. Mr. President, do you want to involve the Soviets at this point, at this preliminary point in this quest for a peace agreement? Do you think that would help or hinder the process?
The President. Well, I'm not going to respond to that question because, as I say, we're still discussing this whole matter, and I'm not going to get into any great details -- things of that kind.
Q. Is that one of the problems, Mr. President? Is that one of the problems -- Soviet participation?
The President. As I say, just generally, we're discussing and hopeful at arriving at a solution.
Q. Your Majesty, does your proposal include Soviet participation?
The King. I've spoken of an international conference of the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Q. So, the Soviets would be included?
The King. Well, that's what we're all working on, as the President has said.
Q. Well, Your Majesty, when you talk about 242 as being a governing principle, are the Palestinians agreed on that? Are you telling us -- --
The King. Yes, sir. I am saying that.
Q. -- -- that the Palestinians agree that 242 and 338 are the governing resolutions?
The King. Every word I've made in my statement is a result of agreement between us and the PLO.
Q. Arafat, the PLO.
The King. PLO, yes.
Q. Mr. President -- --
Q. Your Majesty, did you just -- --
The President. Wait, wait, wait. One second. Wait.
Q. Will you recognize the PLO if they accepted 242 and 338?
The President. Now, what?
Q. Would you recognize the PLO if they accepted 242 and 338?
The President. His Majesty has said that they've discussed this and, yes, that this -- --
Q. I'm asking if you would recognize -- the United States would recognize the PLO if they accept 242 and 338 explicitly?
The President. Well, as I've said, our terms have been made very plain for quite some time as to what is necessary for us to negotiate with the PLO, and they remain unchanged.
Q. Your Majesty, did you discuss the sale of Hawk missiles by the U.S. to Jordan?
The King. I think we've said enough, sir.
Q. Why did you say it was the last chance?
Q. Mr. President -- --
Q. Did we get all the points you asked us to ask about?
The President. Well, because -- oh, I will answer then this word that this was the last chance, and then this is the last we're going to take.
The last chance -- I think that the conditions have never been more right than they are now to pursue this peace. And who knows whether those conditions will ever come as close together again as they have now. So, that's why I think the term ``last chance.'' And I think we ought to keep that in mind that perhaps it is the last chance.
And now, we're not going to take any more questions. And I feel a few drops of rain, and it doesn't bother His Majesty or me, but we don't want any of you to get wet, so -- [laughter]
Sources: Public Papers of the President