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King Hussein urges: 'Hands off' Mideast

Jordanian King Hussein's recent visit to Moscow was aimed partly at broadcasting a consensus plea from moderate Arabs to both superpowers: Don't turn the Mideast into a US-Soviet jousting ground.

Senior officials in the King's party indicated that in addition to this, the traditionally pro-Western monarch sought to underscore his oft-stated opposition to the current US approach to Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

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The King has in the past rejected the separate Egyptian-Israeli treaty in favor of overall talks bringing in the Palestinians. During his three-day visit here, he explicitly endorsed a Soviet proposal for convening an international Mideast conference including the Palestine Liberation Organization.

He also welcomed any other approach that might lead to a genuinely "comprehensive" settlement -- a move seen as leaving the door open to joining an amended US or West European approach to the Arab- Israeli crisis.

"The situation remains in flux," said one senior Jordanian official privately.

He noted that elections are due next month in Israel, "although we don't believe that will fundamentally change things."

"President Reagan's administration clearly has not yet charted its final Mideast policy," the official said.

He said it was possible the King would soon travel to the United States.

Sources in Washington say the King has tentatively been listed as commencement speaker in early June at a high school there attended by one of his sons.

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But so far, the Jordanians seem to suspect the Reagan team may be on the wrong track.

They and other relatively moderate Arabs like the Saudis and Kuwaitis fear increased tension in light of the stated US priority on lining up curbstones against Soviet influence in the Mideast, Jordanian officials said.

"For us," said one official, "this [Soviet influence] is not the main issue. The Palestinian problem is, and we feel that other issues such as concern over Arab oil supply could be lessened by solving the Palestinian issue."

King Hussein, who toured various Arab oil states before his arrival in Moscow May 26, rejected during a Moscow dinner speech any outside attempts at "hegemony" over the region.

In his address, he said this applied to all such interference -- a remark seen by Arab diplomats as referring both to US bids for a widened military presence, and to Soviet military and political backing fo r Marxist South Yemen.

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