Guns for peace: Hussein reaps strange reward

HOW MANY times had he secretly visited Jordan, we asked Shimon Peres yesterday. And the Israeli Foreign Minister, with a slight toss of his head and the smile of a man who knows how to deal with the numbskulls of the press on his first public visit to the Hashemite Kingdom, answered without hesitation: 'We came here to make a story - not to write a story.'

It was about as subtle as you could get in the ballroom of the Dead Sea Spa Hotel with an Israeli military helicopter outside, a battalion of Jordanian soldiers on the hills to the east and an Israeli outside-broadcast lorry parked beside the heavy waters at the lowest point on earth.

But Mr Peres politely deflected the significance of his visit back to the days of King Abdullah, grandfather of the present King Hussein, who met Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett and Moshe Dayan in the months before his assassination, 43 years ago to the day.

But what was the story yesterday? History, we were told by Mr Peres - and by King Hussein, and by Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, was being made. It was a time for peace and, to be frank, a time for rhetoric. There was 'light at the end of the tunnel' (Mr Peres), while new hope was 'alive in this ancient land' (Mr Christopher) because we were 'at one of those vital and critical moments which history will cherish and poets shall praise' (Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul Salam Majali). With a rhetoric bath like this, you did not need to go swimming in the Dead Sea to keep afloat.

Yet this was history, too, if not as straightforward as its participants might suggest. The king, white-bearded, bespectacled and in a black tie to honour the anniversary of his grandfather's murder, made no secret of the problems that still bedevil Jordan's talks with Israel. Would there be a peace agreement next week, or next month? 'We still have got a long way to go . . . a lot of problems to be solved,' he replied.

Jordanian officials - though the King was too polite to discuss this yesterday - say that outstanding problems included an Israeli rejection of 1928 British Mandate maps to define the border between the two countries and an insistence by the Israelis that Jordan's international boundary should be referred to as 'territorial wishes' much as the West Bank is now called by the Israelis 'disputed' rather than 'occupied' territory.

But it was Mr Majali who banished war yesterday afternoon, when, asked if there would be a formal end to the belligerency between Jordan and Israel, he replied: 'The war is behind . . . it's finished.'

And there was, of course, a reward for such statements. As Mr Christopher said, standing next to King Hussein at an earlier press conference: 'The United States has always been ready to help those in this region who have the courage to support the course of peace.' In Jordan's case, he frankly announced, this meant 'debt forgiveness, and making available certain military equipment'. King Hussein smiled broadly as Mr Christopher said this, and it did indeed seem a strange equation: guns for peace. The financial extent of America's 'forgiveness' is variously put at dollars 670m ( pounds 435m) - the Israeli version) - or dollars 950m ( pounds 616m) - the American version.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Recruitment Genius: Production Team Leader / Chargehand

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Chargehand to join ...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project