Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Jordan Defends Stance in Gulf War

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Jordan Defends Stance in Gulf War

Article excerpt

WHEN United States Secretary of State James Baker III visits the Middle East this week, one leader noticeably absent from his talks will be Jordan's King Hussein.

Although the US and Jordan have in the past cooperated closely on regional issues, the two countries experienced a falling out over the question of Jordan's neutrality during the Gulf war.

Despite the current rift, however, interests common to both countries are likely to determine future relations, Western officials here say.

Both recognize that the other will be essential to any lasting postwar arrangement, Jordanian and Western diplomats here say. With that in mind, US officials are already reviewing their decision announced by President Bush early last month to freeze $75 million in aid to Jordan, Western sources say.

Senior Jordanian officials are less sanguine about establishing warmer relations with the US in the near term. That will depend largely on the terms the coalition demands from Iraq in settling the Gulf war, and whether the US and other coalition countries put pressure on Israel concerning its occupation of Arab territories also in violation of United Nations resolutions, they say. Equal treatment demanded

"It is not enough just to look at the area under a series of bilateral terms with preferential treatment," says Awn al-Khasawneh, a senior Foreign Ministry official and advisor to Crown Prince Hassan Ibn Talal. "We hope that there will be greater resolve to address the Palestinian question on the basis of international legitimacy," he says.

Jordanians officials maintain that their policies have been consistent, having advocated a political settlement to both the Iraqi-Kuwaiti and Israeli-Palestinian disputes. Jordan opposed both occupations and never recognized Iraq's annexation of Kuwait, they say, arguing that Mr. Bush's characterization of King Hussein as having taken a "pro-Iraqi tilt" was unfair.

"It is a question of perception," says Khasawneh. "We think the perception the West has of us is wrong. …

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