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Remarks Following Discussions With King Hussein I of Jordan

April 19, 1989

The President. Well, I've had the pleasure and honor of an intimate discussion with an old friend, His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan. The relationship between Jordan and the United States has deep roots; it's founded on a commonality of interests and mutual respect. And it is in this spirit that His Majesty and I reviewed the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, the search for Arab-Israeli peace. We talked also of the concerns that we both have about Lebanon.

Few individuals can match the dedication of His Majesty King Hussein to the cause of peace, for his is a commitment to explore opportunities, examine options, pursue possibilities. And I explained to him our thinking on the need to diffuse tensions, to promote dialog, to foster the process of negotiations that could lead to a comprehensive settlement. And I reiterated my belief that properly designed and mutually acceptable elections could, as an initial step, contribute to a political process leading to negotiations on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza. I also reaffirmed to His Majesty our longstanding commitment to bring about a comprehensive settlement through negotiations based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of territory for peace. Through these negotiations, peace and security for Israel and all states, and legitimate Palestinian political rights, can be realized. In addition, a properly structured international conference could serve, at the appropriate time, as a means to facilitate direct negotiations between the parties.

The time has come to encourage fresh thinking, to avoid sterile debate, and to focus on the difficult but critical work of structuring a serious negotiating process. His Majesty committed Jordan to this task, and I commit the United States to this task. An important part of this effort and of the stability of the Middle East as a whole will be the continued economic and military strength of Jordan. Jordan's security remains of fundamental concern to the United States, and I have reassured His Majesty that the United States will do its utmost to help meet Jordan's economic and military requirements. His Majesty King Hussein and I delved deeply into the broader regional and internal problems, and as always, I benefited greatly from the wisdom of my friend. Together we pledge to continue the close cooperation and coordination that mark the relations between Jordan and the United States.

And in closing, I would like to express my best wishes to King Hussein and to the people of Jordan for an auspicious month of Ramadan and a blessed 'Id holiday. Thank you.

The King. Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great pleasure, as always, to return to the United States, a country with whom Jordan has enjoyed a special relationship for so many years. It is even a greater pleasure on this occasion to be meeting with you, Mr. President, a treasured friend of long standing. Your dedication to the service of your great country has been a source of inspiration, respect, and admiration to me, as it is to all who know you.

Mr. President, I know how devoted you are to the cause of peace. I share this devotion. I sincerely hope that through our common devotion to peace we can, with those who are equally devoted, finally bring peace to the Middle East.

You are the sixth President with whom I've joined to pursue that peace. I first visited this historic house in 1959 to meet with President Eisenhower. It marked the beginning of a warm and productive relationship between our two countries, a relationship which has flourished because of our shared values, shared interests, and shared goals. It is a relationship which my country and I cherish. I am heartened that the talks we are engaged in will contribute to a deepening of this relationship.

One of our goals, which despite 22 years of efforts we have yet to achieve, is a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The principles for that settlement were established many years ago: United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. These resolutions provide for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territories occupied in 1967 in return for the establishment of peace, arrangements for secure and recognized borders, and negotiations under appropriate auspices to implement these provisions.

Your recent expressed reaffirmation of American support for the end of Israeli occupation in return for peace and for the political rights of the Palestinian people -- integral part of any comprehensive settlement -- both constructive and commendable. As a result of a recent decision by the Palestine Liberation Organization to accept the right of Israel to exist, to negotiate a settlement with Israel based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and to renounce terrorism, a significant contribution to peace has been made.

This historic decision has the overwhelming support of the Arab world. The decision by the United States to undertake substantive discussions with the PLO has further improved the prospects for peace. I hope this will prompt Israel to respond similarly to the requirements of peace and recognize the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Peace can neither be negotiated nor achieved without PLO participation.

Mr. President, I believe the bases for peace are already established. What is required is to implement them. The forum for a negotiated comprehensive settlement is a peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations. In my opinion, any steps taken should lead to such a conference, if our efforts to arrive at a comprehensive settlement are not to be diverted. All the people in the Middle East need peace and an end to this tragic and interminable conflict. The rewards of peace are limitless and far outweigh any advantage which might be gained by any party from continued controversy and conflict. The conditions for peace exist. We all must display the vision and determination to capitalize on them.

Mr. President, allow me to say, as one of your many friends and as one who knows well your qualities, abilities, devotion and dedication to the cause of peace, that you are the right leader in the right office at the right time. I know the high esteem with which you are held throughout the Middle East. You are in a unique position to help the protagonists in our area to engender the needed trust and hope and to assist us in bringing the conflict to a just and durable conclusion. I can assure you that I fully support you and all your efforts in this regard.

May God bless you, Mr. President, your dear family, and the friendly people of these great United States. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:34 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Prior to their remarks, the President and the King met in the Oval Office. Following their remarks, the President and the King toured Mount Vernon and took a cruise on the Potomac River, which ended at Bolling Air Force Base.

George Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With King Hussein I of Jordan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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