President outlines economic development plan, warns of peril of violence CLINTON VISITS THE MIDDLE EAST

October 27, 1994|By Douglas Jehl | Douglas Jehl,New York Times News Service

AMMAN, Jordan -- Just hours after celebrating the formal peace between Israel and Jordan, President Clinton outlined a plan last night to promote economic development across the Middle East, but coupled it with a warning that violence could still tear the region asunder.

To a joint session of the Jordanian Parliament, Mr. Clinton served notice of the mixed optimism and apprehension with which his administration is looking beyond the historic accord. As he prepared to travel today to Syria, which has not yet agreed to peace terms with Israel, the president spoke last night of the stark choices he said the region still faced.

"It is the age-old struggle between fear and hope," Mr. Clinton declared. With King Hussein sitting behind him and the members of Parliament and distinguished guests packed into the circular chamber, he praised Jordan for its "bold choice" but said that all of the region must remain on guard against "those who preach hate and terror."

Mr. Clinton is the first president to visit Jordan since Richard M. Nixon did so in 1974, and he received an elaborate welcome at the airport here, and then at the Parliament headquarters, where a band played "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

As the first American president to address the Jordanian Parliament, Mr. Clinton used the occasion to issue strong pledges of support for the country and its quest for peace. He promised that the United States would take a leading role in establishing a Middle East Development Bank to finance projects undertaken by the region's newly amicable neighbors, and said the Overseas Development Investment Corp. would provide $75 million to promote new private investment, nearly all of it in Jordan.

"Today, let me say, on behalf of the United States: I will not let you down," Mr. Clinton said to thunderous applause from Hussein and other Jordanians.

But on a day that took him from Cairo Egypt, to the Israeli-Jordanian border and then to this ancient capital, he also spoke out against the danger that violence rather than prosperity could yet come to color the region's future.

The president met yesterday morning in Cairo with Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and he later pronounced himself satisfied that Mr. Arafat was doing all he could do to combat terrorist strikes by Hamas, the Muslim extremist organization that has claimed responsibility for last week's bus bombing in Tel Aviv and other attacks.

At the same time, however, Mr. Clinton made plain that the United States would be satisfied with nothing less than an all-out effort. His aides said he would carry that message with him to Damascus today for talks with President Hafez el Assad of Syria, which remains on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism and whose forces occupy much of Lebanon, which Hezbollah guerrillas have used as a base for anti-Israeli attacks.

"Once you become a partner in the peace process, you have to fight for peace," Mr. Clinton said yesterday morning in summarizing what he said he had told Mr. Arafat during their private meeting in the Qebba Palace in Cairo, where President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt played host. "And those who seek to undermine it are seeking to undermine you."

Senior administration officials said the discussions with Mr. Arafat had produced a final agreement from him to begin collecting taxes in Palestinian-ruled territory in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They said that that represented an important step toward Palestinian self-rule and expressed hope that it would result in a new willingness by Saudi Arabia and others to make good on commitments of financial assistance.

But apart from a brief picture-taking session, the president chose not to appear with Mr. Arafat in public, a decision that aides said reflected a view that on a journey intended to celebrate peace, it was not yet time to accord the Palestinian leader a public embrace. And while Mr. Clinton said he believed that Mr. Arafat "clearly understands" that Hamas represents a threat to his leadership as well as to the group's Israeli targets, administration officials expressed concern that the PLO chairman might yet be tempted to seek some accommodation with the extremist group.

The president and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were staying last night as the guests of King Hussein and his wife, Queen Noor, at Hashimiya Palace, a guest house on a hill north of town. They had stayed Tuesday night as Mr. Mubarak's guest in Cairo at Qebba Palace, a spacious 19th-century limestone structure, and he said at one point yesterday: "I'm still committed to democracy, but this is pretty nice."

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