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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 26, 1994


THE PRESIDENT: Your Majesties, Prime Minister Majali, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Parliament, citizens of Jordan, citizens of the United States.

Mr. President, thank you for that generous introduction. Your Majesty, thank you for welcoming me to your beautiful country and for giving me the opportunity to accept your kind hospitality after your many visits to our capital.

I thank you all for the honor to address this assembly, and to reflect with you on this historic day of peace. On this day, Your Majesty, descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, in making peace with your neighbor has done even more than fulfill the legacy of King Abdullah. You have sent a signal to the entire Arab world that peace is unstoppable. (Applause.)

On this day, in the desert of the great Rift Valley, the people of Jordan stepped out of the shadows of strife. You made a bold choice: You rejected the dark forces of terror and extremism; you embraced the bright promise of tolerance and moderation. You spurned those who would draw you back into the hostile past. You chose instead a future of opportunity and tranquility for your children.

The United States admires and supports the choice you have made. And we will stand with you in months and years ahead.

Today the people of Jordan pay homage to those who led the great Arab revolt for freedom, independence and unity. You honor the memory of three generations of Jordanians who gave their lives in defense of your country -- what Your Majesty has called the shattering toll in blood and tears, the waste of youth and the grief of our forefathers.

In your address to our Congress two months ago, Your Majesty called for an end to the unnatural and sinister state that has spread fear and isolation. You urged your people to commit themselves to establishing a new, humane and natural order. Now the people of Jordan have said, enough of blood, enough of tears. It is time to move on.

In the words of Your Majesty, they have said, let us make what is abnormal, normal. All over the world people of different faiths and all walks of life celebrated this day. All over the world people of goodwill rejoiced at the leadership of King Hussein, who, with his courage, discipline and vision, honored King Abdullah's wish as he embarked on his last journey to Jerusalem, when he said, "Do your very best to see that my work is not lost. Continue it in the service of our people."

Now it can be said, Your Majesty has met King Abdullah's charge, and in so doing you are meeting the challenge of history and advancing the cause of peace throughout the Arab world.

Today's victory is also in keeping with the history of Jordan, which has long been a model for progress and a voice of moderation in the Arab world. From the beginning, when King Abdullah brought together disparate peoples in a united kingdom, following this path has never been easy for you. Yet in the midst of hard times and conflicts, you are building a society devoted to the growth of pluralism and openness. You have established a parliament where all voices can be heard. (Applause.)

You have nurtured a growing partnership between Your Majesty and all Jordanian citizens. Your nation's commitment to pluralism has been matched by a remarkable generosity of spirit, for you have opened your doors to millions of your Arab brethren. And they have come here, year after year, seeking refuge in your nation. And here they have found a true home. In return, they have enriched your economy and your culture.

My country, a nation of immigrants from every area of this world, respects your openness and your understanding that diversity is a challenge, but it can be a source of strength. America's commitment to Jordan is as strong tonight as it was when Your Majesty traveled to the United States for the first time 35 years ago and met President Dwight Eisenhower, the first of eight presidents you have known.

The President and Your Majesty discussed the great threat that communism then posed to America and to the Arab world. And when President Eisenhower asked what America could do to help, Your Majesty said then, "We need more than anything else the feeling that we do not stand alone."

Now, at a time when those who preached hate and terror pose the greatest threat to the cause of peace, President Eisenhower's response still holds true. Thirty-five years ago he told Your Majesty, "Our country knows what you have done. Believe me, we won't let you down."

Both of us, Jordan and America, are fighting the same battle. Today that battle is the struggle for peace, and I say again, on behalf of the United States, we will not let you down. (Applause.)

From the outset, America's commitment to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East has been backed by a strong pledge that whenever Arabs and Israelis turn the page on the past, the United States would work with them to write a real practical future of hope. Those who take risks for peace must not stand alone. We will work with Jordan to meet your legitimate defense requirements, and to give you the security you deserve. (Applause.)

But for peace to endure, it must not only provide protection, it must produce tangible improvements in the quality of ordinary citizens' lives, and in so doing, give those citizens a real stake in preserving the peace. The United States understands the need for peace to produce real benefits, and we are taking steps to meet that goal.

We have pledged to forgive all of Jordan's debt to our own government, and we have encouraged -- indeed urged, other countries to do the same. (Applause.) From one end of your border with Israel to the other, the U.S.-Jordan-Israel Trilateral Economic Commission is preparing to invest in progress. Visionary designs to develop the great Rift Valley, ambitious projects to produce more energy and fresh water, new efforts to extract minerals from the Dead Sea, and exciting plans to encourage visitors to share the wonders of your lands -- all these are being brought to life.

Making these dreams real, of course, will require new investment and new capital. To that end, the United States supports the creation of a Middle East Bank for Cooperation and Development. (Applause.) And we will take the lead in consultations with governments within and beyond the region to ensure that the bank is properly structured. Our government's Overseas Private Investment Corporation is establishing a $75 million regional investment fund to encourage American investment in projects like those in the Rift Valley.

And the United States will actively pursue practical means of expanding trade and investment opportunities with Jordan. We will consider a wide array of measures, including a bilateral investment treaty, other trade arrangements and other initiatives that will lessen barriers to trade and increase prosperity in your area. These critical steps, and others to provide your citizens with the economic opportunities they deserve, are vital to building peace in Jordan and throughout the Middle East. If people do not feel these benefits, if poverty persists in breeding despair and killing hope, then the purveyors of fear will find fertile ground. Our goal must be to spread prosperity and security to all. (Applause.)

After all, the chance to live in harmony with our neighbors and to build a better life for our children is the hope that links us all together, whether we worship in a mosque in Irbid, a Baptist church like my own in Little Rock, Arkansas, or a synagogue in Haifa, we are bound together in that hope. (Applause.) Yet though we know in every corner of the world people share that hope, there are those who insist that between America and the Middle East there are impassable religious and other obstacles to harmony; that our beliefs and our cultures must somehow inevitably clash. But I believe they are wrong. America refuses to accept that our civilizations must collide. We respect Islam. (Applause.)

Every day in our own land, millions of our own citizens answer the Moslem call to prayer, and we know the traditional values of Islam -- devotion to faith and good works, to family and society -- are in harmony with the best of American ideals. Therefore, we know our people, our faiths, our cultures can live in harmony with each other.

But in the Middle East, as elsewhere across the world, the United States does see a contest -- a contest between forces that transcend civilization; a contest between tyranny and freedom, terror and security, bigotry and tolerance, isolation and openness. It is the age-old struggle between fear and hope.

This is the conflict that grips the Middle East today. On one side stand the forces of terror and extremism, who cloak themselves in the rhetoric of religion and nationalism, but behave in ways that contradict the very teachings of their faith and mock their patriotism. (Applause.) These forces of reaction feed on disillusionment, on poverty, on despair. They stoke the fires of violence. They seek to destroy the progress of this peace. To them, I say, you cannot succeed for you are the past, not the future. (Applause.)

The people of Jordan and all those throughout the Arab world who are working for peace are choosing progress over decline; choosing reason, not ruin; choosing to build up, not tear down; choosing tomorrow, not yesterday. The people of Jordan on this day, through King Hussein, have pledged themselves to a treaty based on a fundamental law of humanity -- that what we have in common is more important than our differences.

This was the message of Moses' farewell address to the children of Israel as they gathered to cross the River Jordan when he said, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live." And it is the message the prophet Mohammed brought to the peoples of other faiths when he said, "There is no argument between us and you. God shall bring us together, and unto him is the homecoming."

Today, the people of Jordan and the people of Israel have reached across the Jordan River. They have chosen life. They have made a homecoming. And tonight we say, thanks be to God, Al-Hamdulillah. (Applause.)