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Bush Brings Hussein 'Positive Ideas' From Peres

July 31, 1986|CHARLES P. WALLACE and DAN FISHER | Times Staff Writers

AMMAN, Jordan — Vice President George Bush arrived here Wednesday night, saying that he was carrying "positive ideas" on the Mideast peace process from Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to King Hussein.

Making the second stop on a 10-day tour of the region, Bush was greeted by Crown Prince Hassan, the king's brother, and then drove immediately to the Nedwa Palace to pay a courtesy call on Hussein.

Neither Bush nor officials in Peres' office would reveal any details of the message to Hussein, although the vice president said it involved "no great surprises" and "no specific proposals."

'Ideas to Share'

Peres "has some ideas that he asked me to share with the king, and I just have to leave it there," Bush told a news conference in Israel before he left for Jordan.

Bush also said he expected to spend some time here "straightening out" any problems created by his earlier call for a Peres-Hussein summit. On Tuesday, Hussein expressed coolness to a suggestion Bush made in Israel that the Jordanian monarch should meet directly with the Israelis.

U.S. officials said the Jordanians are hoping to secure a U.S. government commitment to take part in an ambitious development plan they are sponsoring for the West Bank of the Jordan River, territory claimed by Jordan but occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The officials said the Jordanians hope to have a chance to make an impression on the highest American government official to visit the region in several years.

"There isn't much ceremony," said one official, "but there's a great deal of time when the king and the vice president will be together. We are not expecting anything in the way of concrete results."

Stalled Peace Talks

The main problem likely to be discussed is the stalled Mideast peace process, which collapsed in February when Hussein broke off political coordination with the Palestine Liberation Organization after the refusal of PLO leader Yasser Arafat to accept U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which amount to a recognition of Israel.

The Jordanians have been visibly torn by the meeting a week ago between Peres and King Hassan II of Morocco. They support Hassan for insisting that Israel recognize the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, but they are also concerned that other Arab countries, particularly Syria, will believe that Hussein might follow suit.

Bush clearly upset the Jordanian king by suggesting in Israel that the "next logical step" after Peres' trip to Morocco would be a meeting between Hussein and Peres.

The king immediately called in reporters here and issued a statement saying that negotiations with Israel could take part only in the context of an international conference with the participation of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council--France, Britain, China, the Soviet Union and the United States--as well as all the parties to the conflict, which generally is taken to include Syria and the PLO.

Opposes Conference

Before leaving Israel on Wednesday, Bush reiterated U.S. opposition to the idea of an international conference. He said the United States opposes an international conference as "unwieldy" and believes it would be less likely to yield positive results than direct negotiations among the parties involved.

"If there is some formulation short of that that can be acceptable to the parties involved, fine," he said.

Bush defended himself against charges that his trip is primarily intended to enhance his prospects in the 1988 U.S. presidential race. He said he would refer the critics to Peres and other senior Israeli officials, "all of whom look at (the trip) with dispassion in terms of politics, and (who) feel that it has been quite substantive and, they say . . . quite useful."

Peres said Wednesday that "I am convinced that as a result of the visit of the vice president to our country, the peace process will gain weight and wind (velocity)."

Bush was accompanied on the Israeli portion of his trip by a film crew hired by the Fund for America's Future, a multi-candidate political action committee. "I didn't say I had no thought to political gain," the vice president said at another point in his press conference. But he added that it was not his main aim, and said he didn't know what sort of political impact the trip might have.

Before he left for Jordan, Bush discussed a wide range of issues Wednesday in working meetings with Peres and alternate Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and also addressed the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

Agreements Snagged

While it had been hoped that Bush would sign agreements on tourism and a new Voice of America transmitter to be built in southern Israel, hitches developed in both cases.

Israel's Finance Ministry refused to repeal a travel tax to which the U.S. side objected. So instead of an agreement, Bush signed a general memorandum calling for greater two-way travel between the countries.

There was also a snag in the Voice of America agreement over the division of labor on the project, so Bush merely watched while U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering initialed a broad "umbrella agreement" that must still be fleshed out between the sides.

Charles P. Wallace reported from Amman and Dan Fisher from Jerusalem.

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