|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Jordanian King Hussein
Amman, Jordan, September 14, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, Amman, Jordan
U.S. Department of State
KING HUSSEIN: Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for us here in Jordan, for me in person, to welcome the secretary of state on her current visit to the region, to welcome a friend I admire and respect. I have had the privilege of personally meeting you, Madame, before. I have always been impressed by your vision, your determination as far as we are concerned to help see dreams materialize into reality, in terms of peace in this region, and for its people, and for the descend ants of the children of Abraham. Madame, such visits usually take place when there is a crisis, or they take place when things are smooth and friends come to check what others are doing and to congratulate them on achieving something. This particular vi sit comes at a period of crisis. I am sure your visit is going to contribute greatly to hopefully helping all overcome the present difficulties and resume once again the determined effort that will lead to peace, to the preservation of human dignity, and to the opportunities that all the people of this region have been denied for so long.
If I may address the press, I would like to say that I am a little disappointed, both in terms of our media in the Arab world, and maybe the coverage that your visit has received, amongst others. I would like to say that I was most impressed by the fact that you spoke everywhere you went in a balanced, constructive way, and you did not mince your words where they had to be said, in regard to Arab responsibilities or Israeli responsibilities, to get us over the present impasse.
Honesty and integrity and clarity are so very important. And when I speak of a crisis I refer to all the hopes that we had, all the voices that we heard from the overwhelming majority of people in this entire region -- the Israelis, Palestinians and Arab s alike -- in support of peace, as they were approaching it some while ago.
I believe that a great deal of damage has occurred in the recent past and the minority has forced its agenda on the majority through violence, creating suspicion and worry and concern, violence that is not limited to one side, but violence that is present on both sides. If it is so, then I would like also to say that there is a peace camp to which I personally belong, and I believe the overwhelming majority of Jordanians belong, and Palestinians and Israelis. And we should be aware of the target of these vile acts being the peace process, being the future of our children and their children beyond them. All of us should do everything we can to rid ourselves of this scourge and to fight terrorism to the best of our abilities, but at the same time to fight for peace and for human dignity, and for human rights, and for a future worthy of all of us, and for relations based on mutual respect.
There is much said about the possibility of Final Status negotiations soon. But to get there we must also implement everything that we have agreed upon until now, to generate confidence and to assure ourselves and others that we are moving in an orderly way towards a clear and worthwhile goal. This applies to Israel, it applies to our Palestinian brethren, it applies to all of us. And it's fairly obvious that to some who say that peace here or peace there is an accomplishment; it is indeed an accomplishment, and it is indeed a commitment. But the search must go on for the comprehensive peace that brings everybody together, and that removes this area from the possibility of it being exploited, together with people by any in this world.
So thank you very much indeed, Madame, for your visit, and thank you for the opportunity of welcoming you on behalf of the government and the people of Jordan. And I hope that we will see you and work with you -- with the President, with the Administration -- in helping us all. We all seek your help, Israelis and Arabs alike. In the United States -- we seek the help of the rest of the world, but in particular the United States, and we believe that you have a tremendous responsibility towards us all which you bear. But if that is the case, then it's time I feel that you should also tell us what your views are when things go haywire in this part of the world, and when we do not fulfill everything that we agreed to accomplish and fulfill and turn into reality. We can't afford the luxury of time. We cannot slip back. We have to move forward. This is indeed a very, very critical time. More violence, the possibility of explosions that might affect hundreds of thousands of people is the reality which I hope that some of our media, which sometime may not be aware of, would realize and understand. There has been enough tragedy, enough suffering, enough loss of life. We are at that critical moment, and your visit is most welcome and I am sure that with your approach, with your concern for all, you will contribute to a better future for this entire region. Thank you very much indeed, and you are most welcome.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Your Majesty. I am delighted to be here in Amman today to meet with you and members of your government.
Our discussions have dealt primarily with the Middle East Peace Process and with issues related to stability and economic development throughout the region, and I want to express America's admiration for Your Majesty's leadership. Where others suggest that peace is too hard, or too risky, or not worth the price, His Majesty and the people of Jordan have had the courage and vision to forge a true peace, and especially in time of tragedy, His Majesty's eloquence and grace have been a powerful healing force . Because of our respect, the United States has been pleased to contribute to initiatives designed to bring greater prosperity to the Jordanian people.
As I have said throughout my visit to the region, the United States believes that Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to make the hard but necessary decisions to move the peace process forward. The Palestinian Authority must consistently do all it can t o weed out terror and create a solid foundation of security so that peace can be pursued. At the same time, it is unrealistic to believe there can be lasting security without real peace. And in order to have a political process to reach that objective, we have called upon the government of Israel to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine trust and confidence. In the end, Israelis and Palestinians must recognize that the only way to create a future of dignity, security and peace for either side is to do so for both. The crisis of confidence that now exists is not desired, nor was it created by the people of either community. The people want peace. They want for themselves the kind of leadership in the direction of peace and in the spirit of re conciliation that His Majesty has given to the people of Jordan. Obviously neither the United States nor Jordan, nor any other nation, can impose peace, but we can, and we are, working together in an active manner to support the Peace Process. We have agreed that we will consult regularly in our efforts to restore and sustain the momentum towards peace.
His Majesty and I also discussed the situation in Iraq. I made clear America's continued belief that the Iraqi government must fully comply with all applicable Security Council resolutions, and expressed our support for the current UN arrangements designed to ease the hardships faced by the Iraqi people. As the United States and Jordan work together on behalf of reconciliation in the region, we are also working with each other to improve the quality of peoples' lives. Prosperity is a parent to peace, just as desperation feeds extremism and violence.
On behalf of President Clinton, I have assured His Majesty that the United States will remain generous in our support for his efforts to end poverty and create opportunity for his people, and that we will remain a leader in helping the Palestinian people to develop the economic and political institutions of their society. The relationship between the United States and Jordan is one of friendship and common cause. We are partners in peace, partners in development, and partners in our desire to ensure a bright and stable future for the entire region.
Your Majesty, I want to thank you once again for your hospitality today, and to express my hope that the friendship between our two countries will grow and prosper for decades to come.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I don't know if this is your last stop in the area; and perhaps you could tell us if you care -- but I wondered if, on a personal side, you would sum up for us how you feel you were received as the first woman Secretary of State to travel this familiar path of peacemaking?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Well, I feel that this has been an exceptionally good tour in terms of the hospitality that I have been shown in all the countries, and the respect and dignity in which I have been received as Secretary of State of the United States . I do think that it is somewhat of a novelty in some countries for them to receive a woman Secretary of State; but everybody seems to have taken it quite in stride.
QUESTION: As Secretary of State, I was wondering if you could tell us with all these comments on the side, whether your visit is successful or not successful. How do you feel about your visit from a business point of view. Was it a success or not? And Your Majesty, I was wondering if you could tell us how you see the American role, in view of the fact that the leaders in the region don't seem to be taking the higher decisions to move the peace process forward?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think it is really very useful to kind of keep a score card in terms of a spectrum of success or not. I have prided myself on not making more out of what I have done than is the truth. I think that there have been some small steps accomplished. We have been able to set up some meetings on a variety of levels, that will take place in Washington and New York that I hope will try to re-energize the Peace Process, and do something to dig ourselves out of this crisis of confidence. I will be obviously continuing to work the issue very hard, and I think that, for my first trip, that I feel that I have been able to show continued U.S. interest and determination in working the Peace Process and also making very clear that the United States has strategic interests in the region, that the region as a whole is of deep importance to us, and that we have many friends here with whom we want to work. I will go back and report to President Clinton, whose interest in the Middle East Peace Process is unparalleled and who will want to know whether we are able to follow through on the steps that I was able to take, small steps, when, in fact, big steps were needed; but it is better than no steps.
KING HUSSEIN: I believe the Secretary answered my question, the question addressed to me, and I am very happy indeed with our talks and discussions. And once again there is something fresh in there and something new in there, someone who speaks the truth, no t diplomatically but accurately and that is most welcome as far as I am concerned; because when we know where we are, we know how to get where we want to and I hope we will.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, there have been reports of efforts from within the U.S. Senate to raise U.S. financial aid to Jordan. What will the U.S. administration -- what kind of efforts will you make to see that such a bill passes through Congress?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are obviously very interested in trying to get as much aid for Jordan as possible, because we believe that Jordan has played a very important role in the Peace Process and that His Majesty is determined to do what he can for the good of his people. We want very much to follow through on a commitment that we would add one hundred million dollars per year in terms of our assistance for a five-year program, and we will continue to do that. I have to say though that it is no secret that we have a very tight budget in the United States and many issues that have to be dealt with in our foreign assistant budget. I have spent a great deal of time on Capitol Hill arguing for increases in our foreign assistant budget, and I will continue to do so. And we, obviously, want to be able to assist Jordan as much as we can.
QUESTION: Your Majesty, sometime back you wrote a famous, deeply personal and perhaps somewhat angry letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we all read when it became public. What would you say in such a letter today?
KING HUSSEIN: Probably the same thing, because we are still waiting for the conferment of promises that were made and commitments that were made before. And once again, I did not mean that letter to be published. There were so many dates beyond that particular episode on which we had met, on which it looked like we were very close to seeing the implementation of the subjects brought up in that letter, and I keep saying "well when?" Let's hope that it will be possible that the atmosphere will produce result s that will see progress so the building blocks are there leading to final status negotiations and dealing with the difficult problems ahead.
QUESTION: Mrs. Albright, last Sunday three Arab leaders, among them of course His Majesty, conferred in Cairo and expressed their commitment to make your trip a success. Do you think that the leadership of Israel was also keen to make your visit a success in t he light of expectations and achievements?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I would hope that they were; and I think that it is my sense that the leadership of Israel is also very concerned about making sure that the people of Israel have the possibility to live in peace. That is obviously what leaders of countries want. And I think they heard my message which can well be characterized as undiplomatic. And they, I hope, understood that it was a message delivered by a friend, who believes that in order for the peace process to move forward that there needs to be the fulfillment of obligations, and that the whole peace process is based on mutual obligations, and respect for necessary partners, and also my very strong statement there that I can fully understand that it is very difficult to operate under the threat of terror, and that dealing with terror is the sine of quo non of moving the Peace Process forward, and that the carrying out of mutual obligations are essential.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as you of course know, in the United States Congress there are both pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian forces. You have now laid down some pretty clear markers for both the Israelis and Palestinians. As you return to the United States tomorrow, do you believe that you will have the support of the congress in this effort, and are you concerned that some of these countervailing forces will thwart the effort that you and the President are trying to achieve?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Before I left, I have had a number of conversations with members of Congress, on a variety of issues to do with the Middle East Peace Process, and I have asked that we be very careful in the United States Congress in prejudging ourselves on Fin al Status issues. I will continue to make that message clear, and I am looking forward to talking with members of Congress about my trip and working with them and explaining what the Administration approach is and soliciting their help.
QUESTION: Your Majesty, you have been calling on the United States to play an active role and to be a real partner in the Peace Process. Are you satisfied with the efforts up till now? Mrs. Albright, are you planning to go to Lebanon, and if your answer is 'n o,' then aren't you also suggesting any kind of trip in order to go to Lebanon, because there is a Lebanese-Israeli track?
KING HUSSEIN: Yes, I am satisfied, and particularly with the visit of the Secretary to the region at this critical time. I think that this is a reflection of the concern of the United States with regard to what is happening here, and the interest that the United States has in the peace process, and in achieving a comprehensive peace in this region. I believe that this visit will be a landmark, hopefully the process leading to what we all seek and hope will be achieved -- a comprehensive peace in this region. I believe, maybe I should just suggest regarding the questions of terrorism, that it has been fairly obvious to me and I have made that a subject of my talks here in Jordan, that as powerful as Israel is, and against the background of what the Jewish people went through, there is fear -- there will always be fear; and, sir, the equation is very simple. You have to remove these fears, and you have to do everything possible to ensure that it is replaced gradually with trust and confidence on both sides; and then I think that it would be much simpler to arrive at solutions that would be acceptable to all sides concerned. That is where I believe that the emphasis on terror and terrorism is the focus of attention at this time, but I don't think that it is fair to say that all the sad sights that we see -- of women and children and people suffering and saying -- they are not, despite all that the real objective. The real objective is the peace process itself. Therefore, we should all be aware of the need for all of us to work together to thwart the attempts of a minority that is aiming at destroying peace in this region, and I believe in that regard -- and although I am a friend of the United States and I have no right to speak of the American scene -- I believe in the United States -- there is a lot of goodwill and there is also a peace camp that is there and hopefully, it will be loud in support of all efforts to bring us out of this point and to see us achieve real peace in this region.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think before I answer your part of question, his majesty's response to the question on terrorism, I think, is an example of his understanding that terrorism plays havoc with the lives of people in all countries in the region, and that the Peace Process is in fact the major victim; and he has been in the forefront of leaders here who have understood the significance of this terrible problem. I have not yet made a final decision about whether to go to Lebanon or not, and I do understand the importance of the Lebanese track also.
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