UNITED NATIONS — Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres offered today to go to Jordan this year to participate in a Middle East peace conference.
"I hereby proclaim: The state of war between Israel and Jordan should be terminated immediately," Peres said. "Israel declares this readily in the hope that King Hussein is willing to reciprocate this step."
He made the offer in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly during celebrations of the United Nations' 40th anniversary. The statement recalled the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's 1977 offer to go to Jerusalem--a journey that paved the way to an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
Peres specified that, even if peace talks take place within an international framework, talks between Israel and a Jordanian delegation or combined Jordanian-Palestinian delegation must be "conducted directly." The same holds for any peace talks with Israel's other Arab foes, he said.
Rules Out PLO Role
The Israeli prime minister ruled out participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization, saying the negotiators must "represent peace, not terror." Israel contends that the PLO is a terrorist organization.
As Peres began to speak, many delegates walked out of the hall.
Israel had previously expressed all-out opposition to an international peace conference, as proposed by Hussein. But Peres said, "If deemed necessary, these negotiations may be initiated with the support of an international forum, as agreed upon by the negotiating states.
"This gathering can take place before the end of this year, in Jordan, Israel or any location, as mutually agreed upon," Peres said. "We will be pleased to attend an opening meeting in Amman," the Jordanian capital.
But Peres maintained his government's reservations about including the Soviet Union in such talks.
U.N. Council Members
He said the five permanent members of the the U.N. Security Council, among them the Soviet Union, may be invited "to support the initiation of these negotiations." But, he added, "it is our position that those who confine their diplomatic relations to one side of the conflict, exclude themselves from such a role."
In addition to the Soviet Union, the permanent council members are the United States, Britain, France and China.
The Soviet Union severed relations with Israel during the 1967 Middle East War. China has not had diplomatic ties with Israel since the Communist Party came to power in Peking in 1949, the year after the founding of the Jewish state.
Peres suggested that preparations for a conference begin within 30 days at a meeting of small working teams.