Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US-Jordan Relations Strained by Embargo

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US-Jordan Relations Strained by Embargo

Article excerpt

JORDAN'S refusal to unequivocally support the United Nations boycott against Iraq has cast uncertainty over the future of United States economic aid to the Hashemite Kingdom.

Unless Amman can demonstrate support for international action against Iraq, "aid to Jordan will be up for grabs" on Capitol Hill, says Rep. Lee Hamilton (D) of Indiana, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and an influential voice in Congress on foreign-aid matters.

"In all but the 1967 war, when the kingdom joined Egypt's Gamel Abdul =Nasser in war against Israel, Jordan always stood for a solution," says a senior US State Department official.

Jordan stands for a solution today, but the United States has expressed little hope for its success. Jordan's King Hussein insists on an Arab solution achieved through negotiation, not an international military one. Analysts here say the king has alienated US policymakers, who are troubled by his reluctance to condemn and counter Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

After last month's Bush-Hussein meeting in Kennebunkport, Maine, which failed to produce an agreement on a common approach, the US said it would seek international financial aid from allies to help pay for the multinational forces in Saudi Arabia and offset economic losses among several countries in region. US officials said that Washington would ask allies to give priority to "front-line" nations such as Turkey and Egypt, countries suffering heavy economic costs of sanctions against Iraq.

"Jordan's later mention, along with Eastern Europe, was rather incidental," the State Department official says.

One Washington lobbyist who works on behalf of Arab clients says, however, that the US sent a signal to Jordan - the country most profoundly affected economically by Iraq's invasion - that its rank among US priorities was quickly falling.

The US has "empathy for Jordan's costs," says Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. …

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