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Ronald Reagan Administration: Statement on United States Arms Sales to Jordan

(September 27, 1985)

I have today notified the Congress of my intention to provide the Kingdom of Jordan with the tools it needs to help defend its people as King Hussein courageously pursues peace with Israel. The provision of these defensive arms to Jordan is essential for two reasons: first, it conveys in the near term a powerful message of U.S. political support for King Hussein's efforts to bring about a comprehensive, lasting peace settlement between Israel and the Arab world; and second, in the longer term, it will meet Jordan's most pressing military deficiency; namely, its ability to provide adequate air defense against an external attack and military intimidation by the adversaries of peace. It will not directly counter the cruel acts of the terrorists, whose bombs and assassination attempts are even now trying to turn Hussein from his quest for peace.

Nevertheless, as firm evidence of America's support, this package will strengthen Jordan as a force for stability and moderation in the Middle East. By giving Jordan's small armed forces the ability to deter the threat of conventional attack, we provide King Hussein the flexibility and confidence he needs to continue toward negotiations with Israel.

For the past 15 years, Jordan has successfully denied the use of its own territory to terrorists from abroad seeking to attack Israeli targets across the Jordan River. More recently, King Hussein has renewed diplomatic relations with Egypt, the first Arab state to do so; he has enlisted the Palestinians in his peace initiative in order to dissuade them from their earlier policies of confrontation and hostility toward Israel; and he has publicly recognized Israel's right to exist and stated his desire to commence peace talks this year.

I remain totally committed to helping Israel to ensure its security, survival, and well-being and to maintaining its decisive advantage over any combination of potential adversaries. The arms transfer which I am proposing for Jordan does not jeopardize this policy. Indeed, a strong, stable Jordan able to defend itself against radical pressures is in Israel's interests, as well as our own. I am convinced that this support by the United States is an absolute necessity if we are ultimately to achieve the peace which we all so fervently desire.

Sources: Public Papers of the President