AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ Jordan and Egypt on Saturday backed the Palestinian National Authority's right to proclaim statehood but shied away from saying whether it should do so on May 4 _ a date set by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

A joint statement by Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians urged the world to ``support this right and recognize the independent Palestinian state upon declaration.''

The statement was issued after a meeting in Amman among Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah Khatib, his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Moussa, top Arafat aide Mahmoud Abbas and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Arafat is touring European capitals and is due to meet with President Clinton on Tuesday to muster support for statehood.

The Palestinians have cited May 4 as a possible date to declare statehood because that is when the five-year interim autonomy period expires under peace accords signed in 1993 in Oslo, Norway.

Jordan and Egypt have been concerned that a unilateral Palestinian declaration could erode the already faltering peace process and lead to the victory of hard-liners in Israel's May 17 general elections.

Both countries, the United States and Europe have been trying to coax Arafat into postponing the declaration. Arafat has indicated a willingness to comply in return for assurances from Israel that include a freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank and implementation of a peace accord signed in the United States in October 1998.

Israel is strongly opposed to the declaration and has threatened to annex parts of the West Bank under its control.