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Congress Passes Jordan Free Trade Bill - 2001-09-24

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a free trade agreement with Jordan, the first between the United States and an Arab country.

Even in ordinary times, the accord would likely have been well received in the Senate, which is inclined to favor free trade. But Majority Leader Tom Daschle says the deal becomes far more significant in the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

"This agreement signals that the United States is not the enemy of the Arab and Muslim world," Senator Daschle said. "Osama bin Laden and his associate extremists argue that the West is waging a war on Islam. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are waging a war on terrorism."

The pact, which has already cleared the House of Representatives, removes trade barriers between the two countries. It also contains worker rights and environmental standards.

Some Republicans argue those provisions could give Jordan too much control over U.S. affairs, but the lawmakers decided not to fight the bill because of Jordan's importance in the battle with terrorism.