Hussein Praises Waldheim’s ‘Noble Human Values’
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) _ King Hussein on Wednesday praised the ″noble human values″ of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, who is emerging from a year of diplomatic isolation caused by allegations he helped deport Jews to Nazi death camps.
The king, Queen Noor and other members of the royal family gathered at Amman’s military airport to welcome Waldheim on his second presidential visit abroad since he was elected president in June 1986.
Last week, Waldheim went to the Vatican for an audience with Pope John Paul II, rousing protests from Israel and Jewish groups around the world.
At a palace banquet Wednesday evening, Hussein praised the former United Nations secretary-general for what he called Waldheim’s ″patriotism, integrity and wisdom.″
He said Waldheim’s presidential election victory showed Austrians appreciated ″the noble human values for which you stand.″
Waldheim repeatedly has denied allegations of wrongdoing during his World War II service in the German army in the Balkans. He also has denied being ostracized by the international community, saying he has received invitations from Libya, Iran and other countries.
Four Jordanian air force Mirage jets flew overhead as Hussein and Waldheim reviewed a military honor guard at Amman’s military airport.
The Austrian leader was accompanied by his wife and Foreign Minister Alois Mock as he stepped off his Austrian Air DC-9.
The king led Waldheim along a reception line of about 70 officials and diplomats before the two men rode in a 20-year-old Lincoln convertible to Waldheim’s lodgings. Flapping Austrian flags lined the route and a military band played.
Hussein awarded Waldheim the Hussein Bin Ali Medal, a decoration named for the king’s great-grandfather and given only to favored foreign heads of state.
Ambassadors from major Western countries, including Britain, France, West Germany and Italy, appeared to greet the Austrian leader.
But U.S. Ambassador Paul Boker did not attend and sent a lower-ranking diplomat to meet Waldheim at the airport reception line.
The U.S. Justice Department said it had evidence Waldheim helped deport Greek Jews and Yugoslav partisans to Nazi death camps, and put him on a list of undesirable aliens barred from the country.
The only visible protest to Waldheim’s Jordan visit came from Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld, who delivered a set of documents on Waldheim’s alleged wartime activities to the Royal Palace.
She said military officers at the palace gate treated her politely, offered her tea and promised to show the documents to the king.
Israel refrained from condemning the visit, although it sharply criticized the pope last week for agreeing to meet Waldheim. The low-key reaction apparently was a gesture of appeasement towards Jordan amid U.S.-backed efforts to start peace talks between Jordan and Israel.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected a bid by Industry Minister Ariel Sharon to issue a Cabinet statement condemning the visit, Israel’s state radio reported.
At the banquet, Hussein said Waldheim lived up to ″the principles of the United Nations charter in promoting peace, cooperation and development″ as U.N. secretary-general from 1972 to 1982.
He noted that Waldheim promoted a 1973 international peace conference on the Middle East and called for a similar meeting to settle the Arab-Israeli dispute.
In reply, Waldheim reaffirmed Austria’s support for the U.N.-sponsored peace conference Hussein seeks.
″Any fair settlement must also take into account the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,″ he said. ″In this connection, I wish to stress the need for full respect of human rights in all parts of the region, including the occupied territories.″
He was referring to Arab complaints about Israeli treatment of Arabs living in lands captured from Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967.
More than half of Jordan’s 2.8 million people are Palestinians forced from their homes by the creation or expansion of Israel.
Jordanian newspapers dismissed the allegations against Waldheim as efforts by Zionist forces to rally sympathy for Israel, to threaten friends of the Arab world or to force Austria to renounce its neutralism.