Could the United States push too hard, too fast for democracy?
KING ABDULLAH: The issue is not whether you're pushing one agenda or another. The issue is we have not been able to deal with the core problem of the Middle East.
Now, I know people will say that there are several core problems in the Middle East. Obviously, the closest to American minds, because of your commitments of soldiers is Iraq.
But for the majority of us living in this part of the world, it has always been the Israeli-Palestinian, the Israeli-Arab problem.
And I fear that if we do not use the next couple of months to really be able to push the process forward, I don't believe that there will be anything to talk about. In other words, there will not be enough of circumstances to create a two-state solution -- in other words, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and harmony.
If we don't solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, then how can we ever solve the Israeli-Arab problem?
And I don't believe that beyond mid-2007, if we don't get the process going, there will be anything of a Palestine to talk about. And therefore, do we resign this whole region to another decade or two of violence, which none of us can afford.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary of State Baker is considering just that prospect, pushing for a comprehensive peace plan as he looks at solutions for Iraq, as well.
But help me out here. Doesn't the situation in Iraq now have a logic of its own, the Sunnis and the Shiites killing each other in an uncontrolled manner?
What does that have to do with what's going on in Palestine?
KING ABDULLAH: Well, the thing is, as we look at the three potential flash points, before, I believe, the Lebanese war this summer, I would have put Iraq in the number one position. After the Lebanese war, the Palestinian scenario was in the number one position, followed very closely in the past several weeks. I would say that the Lebanese problem and the Palestinian ones are neck-in-neck.
They're all extremely important. Solving all three of them are going to be critical.
But the priority I believe today in the long term is the Israeli-Palestinian one, because it resonates beyond the borders of Iraq, beyond the borders of the Arab and the Muslim world. ...
And you know, you've been with this issue for many years. It is still the emotional core issue for our part of the world.
The problem when we discuss this sometimes with the American public, they say, no, this is just an excuse, because there are other problems in the Middle East.
But the emotional impact that the Israeli-Palestinian problem has on the ground can be translated to the insecurity and the frustrations throughout the Middle East and the Arab world. For me, that is the priority.
When it comes to things exploding out of control, I would put today, as we stand, Palestine and probably a close tie with Lebanon. Iraq, funny enough, although as concerned as I am with Iraq and the major problems that that might bring to us, is in third position. Obviously, this is all relative.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of the ideas for dealing with all three of these conflicts is an international conference that would include Jordan, would include Saudi Arabia, would include Egypt and include the United States, but also Syria and Iran.
Do you think it would be useful to include Syria and Iran in that kind of a conference right now? And what kind of leverage does the U.S. have over that?