Just hours after celebrating the formal peace between Israel and Jordan, President Clinton outlined a plan Wednesday to promote economic development across the Middle East but coupled it with a warning that violence still could tear the region asunder.
To a joint session of the Jordanian Parliament, Clinton served notice of the mixed optimism and apprehension with which his administration is looking beyond the historic accord. As he prepared to travel today to Syria, which has not yet agreed to peace terms with Israel, the president spoke of the stark choices he said the region still faces.
"It is the age-old struggle between fear and hope," Clinton said.
The first American president to address the Jordanian body, Clinton promised that the United States would take a leading role in establishing a Middle East Development Bank to finance projects undertaken by the region's newly amicable neighbors and said the Overseas Development Investment Corp. would provide $75-million to promote new private investment, nearly all of it in Jordan.
"Today, let me say, on behalf of the United States: I will not let you down," Clinton said to thunderous applause from King Hussein and other Jordanians.
Earlier, the president met in Cairo with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and he later pronounced himself satisfied that Arafat was doing all he could to combat terrorist strikes by Hamas, the Palestinian organization that has claimed responsibility for a bus bombing in Tel Aviv last week and other attacks.
At the same time, however, Clinton made plain that the United States would be satisfied with nothing less than an all-out effort.
Clinton also sought to dampen expectations for his meeting today with Syrian President Hafez Assad, now the most conspicuous Arab leader to have failed to make peace with Israel.
"I expect that we will make some progress," Clinton said. "I expect that we will narrow the gap. I do not expect this trip to Syria to produce a dramatic breakthrough."