Jordan's King Hussein said at a rare press conference today that he has no new peace initiatives for the Middle East following the collapse of his joint efforts with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.
He said although there were "differences in terms of priorities" between his leadership and that of the PLO, he remained committed to the PLO's representative role.
"We believe that the Palestinians must be involved in any solution of the Palestinian problem," Hussein said at his palace.
"We believe in the PLO's being the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at least as far as the institution is concerned," he added.
The press conference came two days after the expulsion of the most senior PLO Fatah official, Khalil Wazir, and the closing of most PLO offices in a move marking a major rift between Jordan and Arafat's mainstream Fatah wing. The king's action followed accusations by Fatah that Jordan was trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause and coopt Palestinians through harassment.
"Our priority has always been and will continue to be to stand firm in the face of a threat and to do everything and anything we can to help the people in the occupied territories face up to their ordeal and remain on their land," Hussein said.
Hussein also praised the recent Soviet proposal for a meeting of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East situation as a "very, very important development." Two of the five permanent members of the council -- the United States and Britain -- have rejected the proposal. France, China and the Soviet Union are the other members.
Hussein ended his Middle East peace efforts with Arafat in February when Arafat refused to accept U.N. Security Council resolution 242 which implicitly recognizes Israel's right to exist.
Hussein said his statements were not meant as an appeal to Palestinians to change the PLO leadership. "No sir, it is just a statement of facts."
Arafat has refused to accept resolution 242, because, he has said, it does not mention Palestinian national rights. He has said he would be willing to accept it if the United States simultaneously endorses the concept of the Palestinians' right to self-determination.
Hussein repeated his disagreement with that position. He maintains that the self-determination of the Palestinians, whom he wants join a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation (as agreed upon in the Hussein-Arafat Feb. 1985 accord) is strictly a Jordanian-Palestinian affair and should not be part of the overall Middle East peace process.
Asked about his unsuccessful efforts to reconcile the long-feuding governments of Syria and Iraq, Hussein said he would continue his efforts "in the immediate future . . . to see the beginning of a dialogue at meaningful levels to achieve a reconciliation and an improvement in relations."