Jordanian officials say relations with U.S. aren't likely to worsen further WAR IN THE GULF


AMMAN, Jordan -- Although relations between Jordan and the United States are now the poorest they have been since the gulf crisis began, the war of words between the countries probably won't get any worse, officials here said yesterday.

"I think it has reached its peak now," said Leila Sharaf, a prominentmember of the Senate, which is appointed by King Hussein. "It cannot do anything but improve."

The latest exchange of strong language began Wednesday, when King Hussein told his nation in a televised broadcast, "The real purpose for this destructive war is to destroy Iraq and to rearrange the area in a manner far more dangerous to our present and future." He also urged his countrymen to "send our

love and our

pride to Iraq as they defend us all and raise the banner that says, 'God is great,' the banner of Islam and Arabs."

President Bush then accused Jordan, which has maintaineneutrality in the war despite the pro-Iraqi fervor of its population, of seeming "to have moved over, way over, to Saddam Hussein's camp totally."

In addition, the State Department moved to cut off $55 million in annual aid to Jordan. Since then, both sides have been calculating the damage of the exchange and pondering the reasons behind the king's strong language.

Though Jordanian officials maintain that the king hasn't changed his policy stance and say that he still opposes Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, they concede that his rhetoric was far stronger than before. They say the king was only keeping pace with the sentiments of his public.

But palace sources said yesterday that the speech was entirely the king's idea and that he even eschewed his speech writers to compose the remarks himself. Several aides persuaded him to tone down some of the more virulent passages, the sources said.

Ms. Sharaf said the tone of the remarks reflected the king's growing frustration with the events of the gulf war. He especially has been disturbed by the reports of civilian casualties and damage to bridges, water supplies and power plants in Iraq, she said.

In the long run, Ms. Sharaf said her country's relations with the United States probably will ease back to normal, unless the war spills over into Jordan.

"We are ready to patch up relations," she said.

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