Jackson Visits Prince At Cambridge Hotel
Says He Won't Mediate Mideast Crisis
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson spent Sunday night in Cambridge discussing the Middle East crisis with a Saudi prince who is visiting here, but said before the meeting that he did not intend to try to mediate the conflict.
"At this point, I have no plans to do anything but keep making a consistent appeal," Jackson told reporters on arriving at the Charles Hotel, where Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud has been staying since before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait two weeks ago. Jackson, who has ties to a number of Arab leaders, has served as mediator in Middle East disputes in the past.
The civil-rights leader called for worldwide condemnation of the Iraqi invasion, which he compared to the West Bank's occupation by Israel and South Africa's domination by a white minority.
"Maybe some voices will get through," he said. "The stakes are so high. So many lives may be lost. So much destabilization may occur in the world. We must not give up on peace. We must keep hope alive."
Jackson arrived at the Charles Hotel at about 9:30 p.m. with his wife and two of his children for what he described as "a private visit" with the family of Prince Turki, who is a brother of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. The Jacksons spent the night in the prince's 40-room suite and returned to Washington early yesterday morning.
Neither Jackson nor the prince was available for comment after the meeting.
In his talk with reporters, Jackson, who has been a strong supporter of Palestinian independence, rejected Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's demand that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories as a precondition for Iraq withdrawing from Kuwait.
Jackson said he supports the current U.S. policy of putting economic and military pressure on Hussein's government.
"I think the point is that if we have a foreign policy that is against invasion and occupation, a foreign policy in favor of self-determination and international law, we must appeal to nations to come out of occupied territory," he said.
Jackson, who in 1983 traveled to Syria to secure the release of an American pilot who had been shot down over Lebanon, said he has no plans to go to the Middle East to help resolve the current conflict. But he said he intends to stay involved in his role as "a human rights activist."
"I've never stopped reaching out to gain the freedom of Americans held hostage," Jackson said.
Jawad George, executive director of the National Association of Arab Americans, said he thought Jackson's efforts might make a difference in restoring peace.
"Reverend Jackson has played key roles in the past in a number of international situations," said George, who participated in the meeting with Jackson and the prince.
Prince Turki and Jackson have known one another for several years, aides to the prince said Sunday. They said the meeting in Cambridge was requested by Jackson in a telephone conversation last week.
Before his arrival at the hotel, Jackson paid a visit to Prince Turki's father-in-law, Sheik Shams El Deen Al-Fassi, who is at New England Deaconess Hospital for observation related to a recent kidney transplant.
The prince, who is Saudi Arabia's former deputy minister of defense and aviation, and his large entourage of advisers have been monitoring the Middle East crisis and advising the Saudi government by phone and fax from their suite, which occupies two entire floors of the Charles.
A frequent visitor to the United States, Prince Turki arrived in Cambridge in late July to meet with Harvard officials. Although hotel employees said he has reservations until September 15, the prince's aides said they do not know when he intends to leave.
Prince Turki, who is fourth in line to the Saudi throne, was honored at a private dinner at Harvard Medical School on July 31. He was invited to meet with President Derek C. Bok, but postponed the appointment indefinitely at the outbreak of the Middle East crisis.