- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2002

President Bush won backing in the battle against terrorism yesterday from a key leader in the Arab world, Jordan's King Abdullah II, who embraced the president's stark depiction of a world divided between good and evil.
"After the September 11th tragedy, I think it's very obvious that there are those that are on the side of good and those that are on the side of bad, and there's some countries in the middle that haven't made up their mind," King Abdullah told reporters in the Oval office before a meeting with Mr. Bush.
"And those countries better make up their minds pretty quickly," the king added.
His remarks went well beyond the support offered by other leaders in the Arab world, many of whom have been criticized for being too tepid in backing the war against al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.
Moreover, the king's statement marked a dramatic shift for Jordan from a decade ago. Then, the Hashemite kingdom, which shares a common border with Iraq, refused to support the U.S.-led war to expel Iraq's Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Jordan was ruled at the time by the late King Hussein, Abdullah's father.
Meanwhile the battle against terrorism was waged on another front yesterday as the president prepared to release a new federal budget on Monday.
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press., Mr. Bush will propose that the United Sates spend $9.4 billion to battle terrorism and allot extra funds for weapons procurement, training and a pay raise for troops as part of a $379 billion Pentagon share.
The proposal, part of the $2.13 trillion federal budget for next year, provides the first detailed glimpse at how Mr. Bush would prioritize defense spending. He and other administration officials already have said that defense, domestic security and the economy will be the top priorities of his spending plan.
Standing at the king's side yesterday, Mr. Bush said, "I hope nations make the right decision. A wrong decision would be to continue to export weapons of mass destruction."
Speaking at a Republican conference later, Mr. Bush expanded on Tuesday's State of the Union speech, in which he labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "Axis of evil."
"The mighty United States will do what it takes to defend our security. Make no mistake about it. If you threaten us with weapons of mass destruction, if you threaten our allies with weapons of mass destruction, we will do what it takes to protect our people," the president said.
Iran, Iraq and North Korea are "on notice that we intend to take their development of weapons of mass destruction very seriously."
Still, Mr. Bush held open the door to dialogue with the aforementioned countries if they "make right decisions."
"I certainly hope that North Korea, for example, listens to what we suggested, and that is they pull back some conventional weaponry to make a clear declaration of their peaceful intentions on the [Korean] Peninsula and that they not export weapons.
"We would be more than happy to enter a dialogue with them, if that be the case."
U.S.-North Korean talks have stalled since Mr. Bush called for a review of relations after taking office just more than a year ago.
Mr. Bush also called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "to join our fight against terror."
"I felt like we were making pretty good progress up until the time when we discovered the world discovered that there had been a significant shipment of arms ordered from Iran for terrorist purposes, and we can't let that stand.
"And frankly, that's in total contrast to what [Mr. Arafat] assured us, that not only through his decisions at Oslo but verbally that he would help us fight against terror. Mr. Arafat must lead."
The arms shipment included 50 tons of rockets, plastic explosives and assault weapons aboard the Karine A, which was intercepted by Israel in the Red Sea on Jan 3.
King Abdullah's endorsement of the U.S. anti-terror campaign is significant because progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians has stalled in the Middle East and threatened to drive a wedge between the United States and moderate Arab nations such as Jordan.
The Bush administration has focused on Mr. Arafat as the obstacle to peace and said that he must rein in suicide bombings and other armed attacks on Israel before a cease-fire can begin.
The United States has pointedly refrained from criticizing Israel for confining Mr. Arafat to his Ramallah office complex with the aid of tanks until he helps calm violence.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with Palestinian officials in his first meeting since his election a year ago.
Mr. Sharon met with parliamentary Speaker Ahmed Korei, Mr. Arafat's unofficial deputy; Mahmoud Abbas; and economic adviser Mohammed Rashid, Israel Radio reported.
The report said Mr. Sharon asked them to convey a message to Mr. Arafat to end terrorism and made clear that Israeli pressure on him would continue until he reined in militants.
Next week, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Qureia, also known as Abu Ala, will visit Washington to meet Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
Mr. Sharon is scheduled to come to Washington next week for his fifth visit to the White House since Mr. Bush took office.
Mr. Powell talked yesterday in New York with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres a dove in the otherwise hawkish Sharon government.
Mr. Sharon said in an interview published in an Israeli newspaper this week that he regretted not killing Mr. Arafat during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
U.S. officials said such comments were "unhelpful" in the search for an end to violence in the Middle East.

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