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US and Jordan: 'Beginnings have been made'

President Carter's approach to Jordan's King Hussein went through a change for the better between the eve of the King's arrival in Washington and the end of his visit here. Beforehand the President told an audience from American Jewish publications that he would use "all the persuasive power" that he had to try to bring King Hussein into the Camp David peace process from which he has kept aloof. After talking with the King, Mr. Carter said that "we have not tried to change each other's minds" on the techniques for achieving a peace both countries want. This was the proper tone for the kind of continuing dialogue that was perhaps the most to be hoped for from the Hussein visit, though there was the dividend of assurances that Jordan would not allow its territory to be used for Palestinian attacks on Israel.

And the achievement of a climate for such dialogue should not be minimized. After the original Camp David provisions for including Jordan in the West Bank negotiations, the nonparticipation of the King seemed more understandable than the apparent United States diplomatic neglect of him. He knew Jordan's interests would be protected with or without his participation; he had no reason to alienate other Arab states by joining in; he certainly didn't want Jordan somehow to be drawn into connection with some kind of Palestinian entity, an arrangement sometimes discussed as an alternative to an independent Palestinian state. He had made it clear long before the Egypt-Israel peace treaty that his support would depend on guarantees of full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands and self-determination for the Palestinians. Neither of these conditions was met by the treaty or has been since.

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The importance of a continuing dialogue, based on mutual trust, lies in the fact that Jordan will eventually have to be involved in Mideast settlement, whether through the Camp David process or some successor to it. At a dinner for the King, Mr. Carter pledged a goal of "full rights" for the Palestinians. But this apparently still does not mean what it sounds like, with US policy favoring a voice for Palestinians in determining their future but not the outright self-determination favored by King Hussein and hardly separable from the concept of "full rights."

Yet President Carter was able to claim agreement on ultimate goals, including the security of Israel and a comprehensive and just peace for the region. And the reportedly restored warmth in US-Jordanian relations should aid in working toward a meeting of the minds on ways to achieve such essential goals.

"Beginnings have been made," said King Hussein. "A better understanding exists to pursue this dialogue."

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