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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King Interviewed by BBC Television
Amman, 22 April 2003

His Majesty king Abdullah II has affirmed that the Palestinian issue was the core issue of the conflict in the Middle East and if the United States would like to create a balanced policy in the Middle East then it should address the Arab-Israeli conflict fairly.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC Television, king Abdullah said the Arab street was questioning if the Americans really wanted to prove that they were fair in the Middle East and that they have come to liberate the Iraqi people from a tyrannical regime then they also have to liberate the Palestinians from another tyrannical regime.

The king added that the United States should pave the ground for the Iraqis to rule their country and to convince them that their future is in their hand. Otherwise we will face the dangers of transforming this country into cantons, a situation everybody has feared since the start of conflict in Iraq, His Majesty warned.

The king believed that the coalition has lost much of its position in the world when it launched the war on Iraq and there has been much criticism on the prevailing state of chaos in Iraq and the Iraqis are worried about their future.

The king voiced hope that there would be sort of coordination between the coalition forces and the international community including the UN. He stressed the necessity for a rapid action to enable the Iraqis to form their government and draw up a national charter the pave the way to establish a new Iraqi constitution. Time is running and the Americans should move swiftly to transform the authority to the Iraqis, the king said. There is only one opportunity for the U.S. to behave soundly with the Iraqi people, the king added noting that the U.S. has won the war but the challenge ahead is how to win the peace.

Answering a question on whether Jordan would recognize a U.S. interim government in Iraq, the king said most Middle East countries face the same question. There might be some sort of cooperation and coordination with such an interim government but "I don't believe there will be a formal recognition of a new Iraq before the formation of a new Iraqi national government," king Abdullah said. Therefore, the friends of the United States should advise her on the best way to move forward to achieve peace.

The king warned that many Arabs have the feeling that the U.S. has a special agenda in the region, But if the U.S. comes to prove that Iraq is for the Iraqis, then the Arabs will hopefully see the west dealing fairly and unbiasedly with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which is still the core issue in the region, the King added. Answering a question about head of the Iraqi National Conference Ahmed Chalabi, who is seeking a leading role in Iraq and who was trailed in absentia in Jordan for charges of corruption but he alleged to be a victim of a conspiracy between the late king Hussein and President Saddam Hussein, the king said Chalabi was charged not only in Jordan but in Lebanon, too. Don't ask Jordan about this, but go and look into reports at the British banking body and at the British government records.

They all clearly put a big question mark on this man and his activities, the king said. His Majesty believed that the Iraqi opposition can have a role in Iraq " but I don't think they can play a major role," the king said.

The average Iraqi would a leader emerging from those who have suffered with him and not from those who live outside, king Abdullah added. "We have too much to do regarding the Middle East process, at the top of this is the formation of a Palestinian government," the king said adding that we all encourage the Palestinian President to move in the right direction.

Implementing the road map at this particular time is a step in the right direction because the map defines to the Arabs and the Israelis what is needed to resolve the problem, king Abdullah said.

Solving the Palestinian problem would pave the ground for political reforms in the Arab world, the king said. Democratic and social reforms can never move in the right way without settling the Palestinian issue, the king said.

Asked about reform plans and democracy in Jordan, king Abdullah said, "I encourage dialogue." "As a king, I find myself in a unique position, where I always try to encourage and empower political parties but we have thirty parties and I would like to see no more than three or four of them so as to be able to have a sound democracy and to have a strong parliament," king Abdullah said expressing optimism over a better future for Jordan. "We in Jordan have a clearer vision about the future than the others and I can see the future promising," His Majesty said.