Bush urges king to join peace conference

May 17, 1991|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush called Jordan's King Hussein to personally urge him to take part in a Middle East peace conference in what the White House described yesterday as Mr. Bush's first contact since the Arab monarch sided with Iraq during the Persian Gulf war.

The conversation Wednesday afternoon also represented the first time Mr. Bush has injected himself personally into a campaign led by Secretary of State James A. Baker III to build on wartime relations to try and resolve long-smoldering disputes between Arab nations and Israel.

However, Mr. Bush wasn't able to elicit any promises from the king, according to White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.

"The president wanted to assure him that we were committed to the peace process in the Middle East and that we were hopeful they would be equally committed and would support a peace conference proposal," he said.

"King Hussein essentially made the same commitment to his interest and his concern and willingness to consider the matter, but . . . there was no commitment to actually participate."

Jordan's role in any potential peace process has been considered so important by the White House that President Bush already has swallowed much of what he calls his "disappointment" at the king's refusal to join the United States and other Arab nations in condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

U.S. diplomatic contacts with Jordan have never ceased.

Although Mr. Baker has been unsuccessful so far in winning a formula for a regional peace conference, he has also been working on a plan to bring Israel to the table with Palestinians, and in which Jordan -- as the home of many Palestinians -- would also participate.

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