Secretary of State George P. Shultz Tuesday sought support for his Middle East peace plan from King Hussein.
Shultz made no statement when he arrived in Amman from Jerusalem Tuesday and met privately with Hussein and Prime Minister Zaid Rifai at Nadwa Palace.With Israel's government divided, Shultz's best hope could be winning over the Arab monarch who several times in the past stepped to the brink of negotiations with his neighbor.
"We do have a sense of movement," a senior U.S. official said in Jerusalem after Shultz met Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
A senior Israeli defense official said, meanwhile, that the government remained deadlocked and the only way to gain acceptance of the plan would be for Shultz to persuade Hussein to accept it.
"I feel it can bring about a change," the Israeli official said in a briefing for American reporters, under rules that barred identifying him.
But the U.S. official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hussein might reply that Israel should act first. The divided Israelis "should pull themselves together as a government," he said.
The U.S. plan calls for three years of self-rule, but not statehood, for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Negotiations on an overall settlement would open in December.
Although Shultz set a mid-March deadline for a reply, Israel, Jordan and Syria all have held back neither accepting nor rejecting the U.S. plan.
With the deadline past, the U.S. official said there was still time for Shultz "to get real momentum" toward a Middle East settlement in the Reagan administration's remaining nine months. He said that would give a head start to the next administration, Republican or Democratic.
After Shultz meets with Hussein he will fly to Damascus for a session with President Hafez Assad of Syria.
Shultz returns to Jerusalem on Tuesday night and will report to Israeli leaders on Wednesday and continue his discussions with them.
In an effort to make headway, Shultz sidestepped differences with Shamir on an international peace conference and concentrated on the details of self-rule for the Palestinians and the outline of an overall settlement.
Meanwhile, in Jordanian capital of Amman, more than 500 Moslem fundamentalist students chanted "Shultz the devil should go home" and burned U.S. and Israeli flags in a protest rally Monday at Jordan University.
There were other demonstrations in the Arab kingdom, where Palestinians are in the majority.