By Munir K. Nasser
Jordan's King Abdullah, echoing US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's warning that it is impossible for the Israelis and the Palestinians to get 100 percent of what each side wants, said "both sides have had to give up something."
The King was speaking with reporters before his meeting with President Clinton at the White House Tuesday.
In response to a question about whether he would expect the Palestinians to accept 90 percent of the West Bank in a final settlement, King Abdullah said: "I've been told by an old friend of mine that the best solution is one that both sides are a bit unhappy with, which means that both sides have had to give up something. And I think that when we look at final status, both sides have to be very open-minded about the other people's positions."
The King tried to avoid questions about his role as mediator for the possibility of resuming talks between Israel and Syria. " We have a series of discussions about the peace process in the next half an hour, so we'll see what comes out of that," he said.
President Clinton said the outlook for a Camp David-style summit is still not clear at this time. He noted that he wants to wait until Secretary Albright gets back to Washington, and after meeting with President Arafat next week before making "some decisions about what to do next."
Clinton warned, however, "We're down now to the difficult issues, and to the difficult decisions. And those of us who are not charged with making them, but are charged with helping them get made, just have to try to create the best possible environment," he said. "I'll do whatever I can. I have for over seven years, and I'll continue to do that."
When Clinton was asked if the US was ready to help Jordan overcome the challenges from final status peace talks, including refugees and water, he said he was in favor of a final status agreement that deals with such issues. He said the agreement should have "a provision made for dealing with the refugee problems, including some sort of fund, international fund, which would deal with the financial burdens of the displaced refugees everywhere, including Jordan. That's what I'm in favor of."
President Clinton thanked Jordan's King Abdullah "for the commitment he's shown to peace, and also to reform within his own country, and rebuilding the economy of Jordan. "I have enormous respect for his leadership, and great gratitude for the strength of our partnership, which he has continued, he said.
Clinton said he would announce a free trade agreement with Jordan after his meeting with King Abdullah. "I think it's important. I'm excited about it, ... and we want to make sure that we're clear and in agreement on all the essential points. I think we are, and I'm encouraged. I think it's a very good thing to do," he said.
In a related development, it was announced in Washington that the United States is providing Jordan with technical assistance and training to help promote the development of Jordan's human resources.
The announcement was made in a joint statement issued June 5 upon conclusion of consultations between Alan Larson, Under Secretary of
State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, and Mohammed Halaiqa, Jordan's Minister of Industry and Trade.
The statement said the US will help Jordan in using information technologies to enhance the efficiency of government, and help optimize the telecommunications, transportation, customs and delivery services networks that underlie e-commerce — Albawaba.com
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