Hussein, Assad Coordinate Peace Positions
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ King Hussein has assured Syrian President Hafez Assad that Jordan will not cut a separate peace accord with Israel, senior officials said Tuesday.
The officials, commenting on the talks the king held Sunday with Assad in the Syrian capital Damascus, said the two leaders also agreed to coordinate their positions closer.
Hussein’s visit to Damascus came ahead of a Middle East trip by Secretary of State Warren Christopher that is planned for next month to try and end the logjam in the Syrian-Israel negotiations, and prod Jordan into signing a treaty with the Jewish state.
While the PLO and Jordan have made progress in their negotiations with Israel in the 2-year-old U.S.-backed Middle East peace process, Syria and the Jewish state are bogged down over conflicting demands over the Golan Heights.
Syria is seeking an Israeli commitment to a total withdrawal from the strategic plateau, which the Jewish state seized in the 1967 Middle East war.
Israel is demanding that Syria spell out its terms for a peace agreement before any signing can take place.
Assad was angered by the Sept. 13 Israel-PLO accord because PLO chairman Yasser Arafat did not consult him over the agreement.
Assad has said he neither supports nor opposes the accord, but he has done little to prevent 10 hard-line Palestinian factions based in Damascus from trying to wreck the agreement.
According to a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Hussein briefed Assad on the progress of negotiations between Israel and Jordan after the two countries signed an outline for a peace accord on Sept. 14.
The king assured the Syrian president that Jordan will not sign a separate peace agreement without Syria reaching a similar accord with Israel, said the official.
Hussein was bolstered at home by the strong showing of pro-government parties in Nov. 8 parliamentary elections. But the monarch, wary of the militarily powerful neighbor Syria, is unlikely to rush into a peace treaty with the Jewish state.