Remarks by the President and His Majesty King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan During United States-Jordan Trade Agreement Signing Ceremony (10/24/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                 October 24, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                             SIGNING CEREMONY

                               The East Room

6:52 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Your Majesty and members of the
Jordanian delegation; Senator Lugar; Senator Moynihan; Representatives
Bonior and Levin; Secretary Cohen and other members of the administration.

     Let me begin by saying a special word of appreciation to Dr. Mohammad
Halaika and to our Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky for the work they did on
this agreement.

     The American negotiators, led by Catherine Novelli and their Jordanian
counterparts have labored hard over these last few months and around the
clock this past weekend -- something that seems to be the order of the day
for us lately -- to conclude this very important agreement.

     Most of all, it is a great honor to welcome King Abdullah to the White
House again.  He is a voice of reason and calm in a region urgently in need
of both.  His leadership has been especially important over these last
difficult weeks, which have brought such suffering and loss in the Middle
East, and thrown into sharp relief the choices facing all people in the

     Down one path lie the enormous challenges of building a lasting,
secure peace and the concomitant enormous benefits.  Down the other path
lies more bloodshed, more hatred, more shattered lives and broken dreams.

     Though the path of peace is steep and has become steeper these last
few weeks, in the long run it is the only path that offers the peoples of
the Middle East hope for a normal life as  a part of the modern world.
That is the path Jordan has chosen consistently.

     It is critically important that the United States stand with Jordan
and leaders like King Abdullah, struggling to give their people prosperity,
standing for peace, understanding that the two pursuits go hand in hand.

     As hard as that may be, there must be an end to the violence, and the
Israelis and Palestinians must find a way out of confrontation back to the
path of peaceful dialogue, and they must do it sooner rather than later.
For, in the Middle East, as we have all learned, time does not heal wounds,
it simply rubs more salt in them.  The issues do not change; they just get
harder to resolve.

     The agreement we are about to sign will establish free trade between
the United States and Jordan.  It is a good and important agreement, one
that I hope Congress will support on a bipartisan basis.  It will be good
for the United States, good for Jordan, good for the long-term prospects
for peace in the Middle East.  It will eliminate duties and break down
commercial barriers to trade between our two nations in both products and

     Under King Abdullah's leadership, Jordan already has made impressive
strides in modernizing its economy, opening its markets, promoting the
well-being of its people.  This agreement will help to accelerate that
progress.  It will also cement the bonds of friendship that already exist
between Jordan and the United States.

     The record is clear that open trade creates opportunities, raises
prosperity, and can lift lives in every country.  Nowhere is this more
apparent than here in the United States, where our exports in open markets
have helped to fuel the longest expansion in our history.  Nowhere are the
benefits of trade more critically needed than in the Middle East.  By
opening markets we can help to ease poverty that makes peace hard to
achieve and harder still to sustain.

     Today's agreement is remarkable in another respect as well.  Even if
it didn't have a thing to do with peace, we would still be here, because it
is the first free trade agreement ever signed by the United States which
incorporates into the body of the text labor and environmental protections,
a landmark achievement for which the negotiators on both sides deserve
extremely high praise.

     For the United States, this follows through on our commitment to
insure that the drive toward globalization reinforces protections for our
workers and for air, water and other natural resources.  The first trade
agreement to have undergone an environmental review under a new U.S. policy
requiring such analyses.  This trade agreement is one that all Americans
can be proud of.

     For Jordan, it represents a far-sighted commitment to worker and
environmental protection that is very much in keeping with Jordan's
visionary commitment to peace.  In today's world, developing countries can
achieve growth without making some of the mistakes developed nations made
on our path to industrialization.  In the information age, the byproduct of
the industrial age, the idea that to grow more you had to exploit both
workers and the environment is simply no longer true.

     Today it is possible to grow an economy faster, while protecting air,
water and keeping children in school.  This trade agreement embodies that
big idea.  Now we must turn our energies to implementing it as soon as
possible.  The insistent voices urging us to build a future that is
healthier, more just, more prosperous and more peaceful are not patient,
nor should they be.  This is a very good day.

     Again, let me extend my congratulations to the negotiators, my thanks
to the King of Jordan and his government, and my great hope that this will
be the beginning of even stronger bonds between our people and a real trend
in modern commercial agreements among good people and good nations

     Now, I'd like to invite His Majesty to come up here and make a few
remarks.  (Applause.)

     HIS MAJESTY KING ABDULLAH:  Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and
gentlemen:  Two years ago to this day, my late father, His Majesty King
Hussein, stood in this same room and reminded the leaders of the Middle
East that it was their responsibility to move beyond violence as a way to
resolve political differences.  He told us, "We have no right to dictate
through irresponsible action or narrow-mindedness, the future of our
children and our children's children.  There's been enough destruction,
enough death, enough waste."

     These words are still true today as they were then.  They echo in our
minds at this difficult time, when the courage and determination of
peacemakers is being called upon.  At this time when the tragic events of
the past few weeks have left much anger, despair and bitterness in our
region, there's a need to keep the faith in peace.

     Mr. President, it is in this defining moment of your commitment to the
cementing of stronger partnership between our two countries that we witness
today the signing of a free trade area agreement.  It is in proof of the
determination of Jordanians to build a new Jordan, strong with its talents
and rich with its opportunities, that they embrace today a new challenge of
progress and fulfillment.

     I am proud to be here to represent the men and women of Jordan, who
have chosen partnership, commitment, and determination as the way forward
to realize their dreams and to fulfill the vision of their future.  We are
grateful to you, Mr. President, for your sincere personal efforts in making
these dreams come true, and in helping realize the vision.

     I also wish to thank the distinguished members of your administration,
particularly Ambassador Barshefsky and her able team for their excellent
cooperation.  The support of our friends on Capitol Hill in the Senate and
Congress who believe in peace and who have faith in Jordan's economic
prospects has been a source of inspiration.

     I am also grateful to our Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Halaika, and his
devoted team for a job well done.  Last, but certainly not least, this
would not have been possible without the professional and persistent
efforts of Ambassadors Bill Burns and Marwan Muasher.

     Mr. President, in its significance, this agreement transcends issues
of market access to send a strong vote of confidence in Jordan's success at
being a model of achievement and excellence.  Having accomplished major
aspects of the restructuring and liberalization of its economic frameworks,
and completed a significant part of its privatization program, Jordan has
now successfully created an attractive environment for private capital
investments.  These would harness its talents, and reap the benefits of its
competitive advantages.  They would complement our integrated program that
calls for increasing productivity through the reform of our legislative,
educational, judicial and civil systems.

     This agreement, by virtue of its guarantee of free trade flows between
Jordan and the United States, provides another necessary condition for the
success of this national program.  They will assist in sustaining our
export-led growth, and will serve to emphasize the role of the Jordanian
human talent as the single most important resource in our contribution to
the new global economy.

     Most important, perhaps, it would contribute to the strength and
success of our model of democracy, peace and equal opportunity.  Mr.
President, the establishment of a free trade area between our two countries
contributes to the strengthening of the economy of Jordan, thus enhancing
the prospects of regional stability.  We shall continue to pursue our
cherished goal of peace in our region.  For us, it is the only future, one
that does not describe the anatomy of a conflict, but rather holds promise,
hope and fulfillment.

     Thank you very much.  (Remarks in Arabic.)  (Applause.)

     (The agreement is signed.)

                       END       7:02 P.M. EDT

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