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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 17, 1997


Middle East Peace and Stability Fund

I am delighted to announce today the creation of the Middle East Peace and Stability Fund. This new U.S. fund will draw on existing allocations of economic assistance to respond to urgent new needs in that region. The fund,s initial focus will be on assisting Jordan as it pursues economic modernization and reform.

King Hussein has courageously led Jordan down the path of peace, exemplifying the wisdom and tenacity necessary to negotiate and carry out peace treaties. King Hussein,s concern about his people and all the peoples of the Middle East is abundantly evident in his actions to bring about peace and reconciliation.

The fund we are creating today will draw its resources from re-direction of a small percentage of the economic support funds supplied to Israel and Egypt. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mubarak both recognize the strategic importance of supporting economic growth in the region. They share my conviction that it is extremely important for the people of the Middle East to see tangible benefits when they turn from conflict to cooperation.

We envision a fund beginning with $100 million this year, and it is our intention, in close consultation with Congress, to support the development of the fund over the next several years. In the coming days, we will work closely with the Jordanian authorities to identify the best ways to integrate these resources into existing development plans. Over time, this fund will be flexible enough to be used to support other regional priorities as needed.

We have had discussions with the Congress regarding this effort, and we will work together closely as we proceed. At a time of limited resources, we believe this fund is the most effective and practical way to respond to new needs. I will also be discussing this plan with other leaders at our summit in Denver next week, encouraging them to seek creative ways to meet the emerging needs in the Middle East.

I look forward to meeting Crown Prince Hassan on June 18 to discuss this initiative as well as other developments in the region.

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