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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02AMMAN4594 2002-08-15 08:41:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
Cable title:  

SFRC STAFFER TALWAR'S MEETING WITH FM MUASHER

Tags:   PREL KPAL IZ IS JO 
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1. (C) Foreign Minister Muasher met with the DCM, Poloff, and
SFRC Staffer Puneet Talwar on August 13. Most of the
discussion revolved around the MEPP and Iraq. FM Muasher
applauded the U.S. commitment to a three-year time-frame for
a Palestinian state, but urged that the U.S. come up with a
plan of action on how to achieve it. Muasher appeared to
expect a U.S. action against Iraq, and while emphasizing the
uncertainities and risks for Jordan, said "this is not 1990,"
and pointed out the importance of the U.S. relationship for
Jordanians. End Summary.



--------------------------


MEPP: WE NEED A ROAD MAP


--------------------------





2. (C) The President's June 24 speech changed the landscape,
according to Muasher, and the GOJ viewed the 3-year
time-frame in the speech positively. The GOJ's diplomatic
efforts now are focused on pressing for a plan of action to
reach that goalpost. Muasher said the Jordanians were
reassured during the King's visit by the President's
reiteration of the U.S. commitment to the three-year
time-frame beginning on June 24. The Jordanians in
Washington had also stressed that the U.S. needed to develop
a workplan that would tell the Palestinians exactly what lay
ahead, otherwise average Palestinians would not be engaged.




3. (C) Muasher had some general comments on what the road
map should include. First, the three-year time-frame needs
to be solid. Muasher pushed the idea of an international
monitoring group to ensure progress continued. Second,
Muasher said the settlement needed to be comprehensive and
include solutions for Syria and Lebanon. The Syria/Lebanon
tracks did not have to begin at the same time or move at the
same pace as the Palestinian track. Muasher understood the
importance of dealing with the Palestinian issue first, but
"by the end of the three years, there needs to be Syrian and
Lebanese solutions as well".



--------------------------


SAUDIS IN FOREFRONT


--------------------------





4. (C) Muasher stressed the importance of Saudi engagement.
"This time they are following up, they are pressing people,
convincing the Syrians to cooperate...they are playing a much
more active role than the Egyptians." When asked about the
Egyptians, Muasher said confidentially that "in the end, they
go along with the Jordanian and Saudi ideas, but they have no
ideas of their own, they have no clear idea on how to move
forward."



--------------------------


ARAFAT: GIVE THE PEOPLE A REAL CHOICE


--------------------------





5. (C) When asked about Arafat, Muasher expressed his
frustration with the Palestinian leader. "We are all
frustrated with Arafat...he has not accepted change or the
need to evolve." Although Muasher agreed in principle to the
need for reform of the Palestinian leadership, he thought the
U.S. approach was a bit heavy-handed. Muasher encouraged the
U.S. to reinforce the three-year timeline with a road map and
present it in clear terms for the Palestinians--what will it
be, a state in three years or Arafat? Given the choice--with
a clearly defined path to a Palestinian state--Muasher
believed the Palestinians would choose a state. But without
such a road map, people would be reluctant to speak or act
against Arafat, lest they be branded traitors. If there is
only a promise of additional negotiations for a state, then
the Palestinian people have nothing to gain from removing
Arafat. Although Muasher thought it was imperative for the
Palestinians to do more on security issues, he was very
encouraged by financial reform.



--------------------------


GOJ-ISRAEL TIES


--------------------------





6. (C) When asked about the Jordanian-Israeli bilateral
relationship, Muasher said that there had been little
movement in the relationship or useful diplomatic contact
with the Israeli government in recent months. The Jordanians
still talk to Ben Eliezer, but the relationship with Peres
has weakened. Muasher opined that the Labor party was in
complete disarray. "Ben Eliezer will tell you things at
variance with Sharon, and Peres will tell you things at
variance with his own party." Muasher said improvement in
the relationship had to be reciprocal. "If we returned our
Ambassador to Tel Aviv without any Israeli action, then
people would see the normalization steps as further
capitulation to Israel without anything in return. But if we
sent back our Ambassador, and the Israelis did something in
kind, that would mean something."



--------------------------


IRAQ: RESIGNATION AND CONCERN


--------------------------





7. (C) While Muasher confirmed the GOJ public stance that
Jordan "will not invade Iraq" (i.e., take a direct role in
the attack), he stressed that the Jordan of 2002 was not the
Jordan of 1990. "We have a strong strategic relationship
with the U.S. that we will not jeopardize." At the same
time, Muasher said the GOJ cannot afford to take a public
stance against Iraq. "I don't think the U.S. will ask us
things that we cannot deliver; on the other hand, we don't
want to put the U.S. in a difficult position." Muasher
underscored the negative economic consequences for Jordan of
an attack and reiterated the GOJ expectation that the U.S.
will help Jordan in the short term. Muasher said the length
of any offensive would be critical. "Bombing civilians for
two weeks will be much different than if the campaign went on
for six months. This is not 1990...people are not concerned
about Saddam, but the Iraqi people."



8. (U) Mr. Talwar did not have an opportunity to clear this
message bbefore departing Jordan.
Gnehm