Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Situation in the Middle East

April 10, 1983

Q. Mr. President, what hopes now for peace in the Middle East since King Hussein says he will not take part on behalf of the PLO?

The President. Let me just say a few words about that. Some radical elements of the PLO have introduced some changes in the proposals that have been made and the policy that we've been trying to follow with regard to Middle East peace. Those changes are unacceptable to King Hussein; they are unacceptable to King Fahd; they are unacceptable to me. And I have been in touch with King Fahd and King Hussein and am going to be in touch with other Arab leaders about this.

We feel that the changes that were suggested would impede the efforts that we've been making toward negotiated peace in the Middle East -- peace for Israel, peace for all of the countries there. And as I say, we are in agreement. I won't take any of your questions now, because I still have other Arab leaders that I'm going to be in touch with regarding this.

Q. But you seem to be saying that you're still hopeful that somehow the radical elements can be overcome by the Palestinians.

The President. I'm -- just having gotten out of the helicopter, my ears haven't opened up yet.

Q. Are you still hopeful that somehow King Hussein will join the talks -- [inaudible].

The President. Oh, we're all very hopeful, because as I say, we're all in agreement about these other proposals that have been made. And I have their assurance that they want to proceed with what we've been doing. We've made great progress so far, and King Hussein has made great progress.

Q. When did you talk to him, sir?

The President. Today.

Q. Aren't you disappointed by the statement that came out today, though?

The President. Well, yes, of course. It is, as I say, it's an impediment in our search for peace. And that is our goal -- peace for the Middle East, peace for Israel, peace for the Arab nations in that troubled area.

Q. Who were the radical elements -- --

The President. Well, I can't -- as I said, that's why I can't take any questions, because I can't deal in specifics while I still have other heads of state that I want to communicate with.

Q. What about the assassination of the moderate PLO leader today?

The President. Well, I think that's always a tragedy -- something of that kind. And it's indicative of the kind of violence we're trying to eradicate.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. Wouldn't it be time for the United States to consider negotiating with the PLO itself?

The President. I can't answer any questions.

Q. Are you calling those other leaders today, Mr. President?

The President. Probably some of them, yes.

Q. Thank you, sir.

Note: The exchange began at approximately 3:10 p.m. on the South Grounds of the White House as the President was returning from a weekend stay at Camp David, Md.

On April 11 the White House announced that on Sunday the President spoke by telephone with King Hussein I of Jordan, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and King Hassan II of Morocco.