Albright says U.S., Jordan partners in peace, desire to ensure bright future for entire region

By Tareq Ayyoub

AMMAN - His Majesty King Hussein Sunday said that he was satisfied with the outcome of Madeleine Albright's visit to the region and urged the U.S. to continue exerting efforts to bring peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians back on track. "I am sure the visit will contribute greatly to, hopefully, helping all overcome the present difficulties and to resume once again the determined efforts that will lead to peace," the King said at a joint press conference following his meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State. "I am satisfied and particularly with the visit of the secretary to the region at this difficult time. It is a reflection of the concern of the Unites States with regard to what is happening here, and the interest the U.S. has in the peace process," he said. "I would like to say that I am most impressed by the fact that you spoke everywhere you went in a balanced, constructive way, and you did not miss the words that had to be said with regard to Arab responsibilities and Israeli responsibilities to get over the present impasse. Honesty, integrity and clarity are very important," the King said. "I believe that a great deal of damage has occurred in the recent past. The minority has forced its agenda on the majority through violence, creating suspicion, worry and concern. Violence, that is not limited to our side, but violence that is present at both sides," he told reporters. The King urged all concerned parties to join peace efforts and fight terrorism which he said was aimed at the peace process as a whole. "I would like to say that there is a peace camp to which I personally belong, to which the majority of Jordanians belong, Palestinians and Israelis. We should be aware of the [that] target of these vile acts, being the peace process... all of us should do all we can to rid ourselves of this scourge and to fight terrorism to the best of our abilities," the King said. The King urged Israel to fulfill the agreements it has signed with the Palestinians in order to move forward to final status negotiations. "There is much said about the final status negotiations, but to get there we must also implement everything that we agreed upon till now: to generate confidence and to assure ourselves and others that we are moving in an orderly way and towards a dear and worthwhile goal. This applies to Israel, to our Palestinian brothers and to all of us," he said. "We all seek your help, Arabs and Israelis alike, we seek the help of the United States and the help of the rest of the world, but in particular the help of the U.S., and we believe that you have a tremendous responsibility," the King added. Summarizing the results achieved after her talks with the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships, Ms. Albright said that Israel and the Palestinians have to fulfill their commitments in order to overcome the logjam. "The United States believes that the Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to make the hard, but necessary decisions, to move the peace process forward. The PNA must consistently do all it can to root out terror and create a solid foundation of security, so peace can be pursued," she said. Having said that, she reiterated Jordan's position that there can be no peace without security but also no security without peace. "At the same time it is unrealistic to believe that there can be a lasting security without a real peace, and in order to have a political process to reach that objective, we have called [upon] the government of Israel to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine trust and confidence," said Ms. Albright who arrived here on her last leg of a Middle East tour that took her to Israel, Palestinian territories, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "In the end, Israelis and Palestinians must recognise that the only way to create a future of dignity, security and peace for either side is to do so for both. The crisis of confidence that now exists is not desired nor was created by the people of either community. The people want peace," Ms. Albright noted. She said that the major breakthrough she succeeded in accomplishing during her trip was to convince the Palestinians and Israelis to meet in Washington and New York "at a variety of levels... to re-energies the peace process and do something to [restore] confidence," she added. "Neither the U.S., nor Jordan, nor any other nation can impose peace, but we can and we are working together in an active manner to support the peace process. We have agreed to consult regularly in our efforts to restore and sustain the momentum towards...peace," she emphasised. She told reporters that she informed the Israeli government that they have to abide by commitments they made in order to move forward. "They heard my message which has been characterised as undiplomatic... I hope they understood, that it was a message delivered by a friend who believes that in order that the peace process move forward, there be fulfillment of obligations and that the whole peace process is based on mutual obligations," she added. The American official said that the United States wants to fatten economic assistance to Jordan but said that the tight budget for foreign assistance in the U.S. makes it difficult, however, she is trying her best at Congress. "We are obviously very interested and [are] trying to get as much aid for Jordan as possible, because we believe that Jordan has played a very important role in the peace process and that His Majesty is determined to do what he can for the benefit of his people," she said. "We want very much to follow through on our commitment to add a $100 million per year in assistance for five years... but it is no secret that we have a very tight budget in the United States," Ms. Albright said. "I have assured His Majesty that the United States will remain generous in our support for his efforts to end poverty and create opportunities for his people," she said. The American official declared that she has discussed with King Hussein the situation in Iraq, however, she said that her country believes the Iraqi government must fully comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions and expressed her support for the U.N. arrangements designed to ease the hardships faced by the Iraqi people.