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Queen Noor of Jordan Speaks of Her Works, Her Late Husband, and Importance of Dialogue

Aired April 13, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Her Majesty Queen Noor, the American beauty who won the heart of the late King Hussein of Jordan. He made her his queen, but her fairy tale life has seen some tragedy too.

She'll open up about that. And Prince Charles and Camilla's royal wedding. Her own humanitarian work and lots more.

Her Majesty Queen Noor is next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: You're not going to open up about Charles and Camilla's wedding? You're not going to tell us the behind the scenes? You, you who know royalty.


KING: You have no comment.

NOOR: That's the full answer.

KING: Let me introduce you, Her Majesty Queen Noor returns to LARRY KING LIVE. It's always great to see her and her with us. Her No. 1 New York Times best-seller, the autobiography "Leap of Faith: Memoirs of An Unexpected Life." There you see its cover, is now out in trade paperback from our friends at Miramax. It has been two years since she's been a guest.

What did you think of that wedding, by the way, just as a...?

NOOR: I wish them tall happiness in the world. It can be rare and fleeting. And I pray that they will know it.

KING: Were you invited?

NOOR: Not that I'm aware of. And I couldn't have attended it anyway, because the paperback had just come out. And I had agreed a long time ago committed to be on tour.

KING: Let's discuss the other big story recently, the pope. You knew him.

NOOR: I did.

KING: What did you think of him?

NOOR: I thought that his emphasis on freedom, on fighting hunger and poverty, on his inclusive approach to other faiths in the world who share the essential message of Christianity, belief in the golden rule and wishing for others what you wish for yourself -- I thought his emphasis on all of those areas, on promoting dialogue, was incredibly important. And we'll always hope and pray that that legacy of his will be expanded and further developed in the world. It's an inspiration.

KING: He reached out to your faith, did he not?

NOOR: He reached out to Islam. He reached out to Judea -- to Jews. He apologized for errors that have been made whether holocausts or crusades or other ways in which Christianity had had -- had not protected the weak and others in the world. And he said he tried to do everything he could in his papacy to promote those values.

KING: What was it like to be with him?

NOOR: Well, in my case, we were at a conference on hunger, held by the World Food Program in Italy. And you were with him and you were with an enormous number of people. But on a one to one basis, he was so connected, I think, probably to everyone he ever met and spoke with. And that again, like my husband King Hussein, who also focused on individuals, anyone in the world, no matter what their level in society, I think he understood that the real power and potential of our world lies in individuals, no matter where they come from.

KING: You want to learn a lot about King Hussein, who was also a guest on this show. Appeared one night historically with Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in a famous program.

NOOR: That was a more hopeful time.

KING: How do you think he would have looked at it now?

NOOR: Looked at...

KING: The Middle East.

NOOR: The Middle East now.

KING: Sharon was here...

NOOR: I'm not sure. and I obviously might sound a bit biased, or some would say perhaps not realistic, but I'm not sure that we'd be looking at the Middle East we are today. The continuing and, if in many ways, increasing divide between parties in search of peace in the region were he still alive.

He had a unique capacity to reach out and bring together opponents, find common ground. He had a unique credibility -- 47 years on the throne. He was able to quietly, without all the public fanfare often, to solve problems and prevent catastrophes from occurring. So I think it might be a different world. I often say to myself, I'm glad he's not seen what's occurred in the years since his death because it would have been heartbreaking to him. Whether it was 9/11 or the hijacking of Islam, a faith that he's a devout Muslim and a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad knew to be an open, inclusive, merciful, compassionate, peace oriented faith.

KING: A who has hijacked your faith?

NOOR: I think you have to -- you can only describe them as political extremists. You can't, as the Muslim commission of Spain issued a Fatwa in March this year. And among its many points in which it said that the al Qaeda terrorists and others using terrorism are, in fact, outside the parameters of Islam.

They, in fact, should not be called Islamic terrorists. They should be called al Qaeda or whatever terrorists. They are political, not spiritual and not speaking for Islam.

KING: How do you react when you see the people with those with Islamic names are stopped more at airports?

NOOR: Well, I've been racially profiled on many, many of my trips within the United States. At many airports, I've been -- I've gone through all the complete search and quadruple selection, 1-S, 2- S, I get 4-S.

KING: Does it offend you?

NOOR: No, I see it as a phenomenon of a -- a reaction to something that occurred that was grotesque to the majority of the world's people including the majority of Islam's -- of Muslims. And I understand the fact that they're trying to fine tune an operation that will provide for confidence to people and help them in terms of assessing.

I think the focus on Muslims, anyone with a dark complexion or anyone with a Muslim name, which often includes many other minority groups, not just Arabs and Muslims, has been misplaced. And I think sometimes the emphasis on even, for example in the case of many of us, they know who we are, but they still have to waste time pulling us apart, everything in our bags and whatever. Not strip searches, but the excessive searches. Because the rules and regulations haven't yet crystallized in a more practical and perhaps successful way to focus on what the threats might be.

KING: Lots of things to talk about tonight. Were you surprised at the success of your book?

NOOR: I was. I had never really -- I just spent so much time writing it. And had never really thought about the best-seller lists. I had hoped and prayed, but feared to expect that it might be responded to by so many Arabs and Jews, Muslims, Christians, people around the world -- I think it is translated in almost ten languages or more -- and in terms that were more than I could have hoped for, which is that it helped them better understand the human realities in the region, the history of the region.

It helped put all the pieces together in a way that began to explain what the -- first of all that the people of the region, no matter Arab, Muslim, Jew, Israeli, Arab, they really share common values and common aspirations. There's so much more that binds them and should be the foundation for peace than what divides them which is a few handful of politicians.

KING: First cousins, aren't they?

NOOR: Yes.

KING: We'll be right back with Her Majesty, Queen Noor. The book now in paperback, "Leap of Faith," a terrific read. Don't go away.



KING HUSSEIN, JORDAN: There is no alternative, there is no other way than for us to carry out our duties to are future generations. And give them an opportunity to live with peace and dignity and security, and to combine their efforts and their talents and bring about a future that is worthy of it.


KING: A great honor to have known your husband, to have been in this country many times.

NOOR: It was for me as well.

KING: What was -- you wanted to add something about...

NOOR: Oh, the TSA, I was just wanting to add that it has made extraordinary progress. And Admiral Stone security administration. And Admiral Stone who was there until very recently really reached out to so many people to understand what kinds of experiences were taking place at the airports and to improve the system. So I didn't want to appear that things have remained static. In fact, I think they've improved a lot in the last year.

KING: Dear, what are you? What are you, Jordanian, American? What you are? You are an American born.

NOOR: In my heart, I have loyalty to both countries and cultures. And I see no contradiction in that. And I never have.

KING: You're a citizen of the world?

NOOR: I'm a citizen of Jordan.

KING: That mean us gave up your American citizenship?

NOOR: I had to when I was married. They could have made an exception. But I don't believe in exceptions like that. I had to make a full commitment, and don't regret it.

KING: Where do you live?

NOOR: I live out of suitcases, that's the way I answer that question mostly. Our family home is in Jordan. And I have four children at university at the moment and one studying in Japan right now. So, I spend a fair amount of time here. I have a small place in Washington, which is where they can bring their dirty laundry, I can feed them, burp them and send them back out into the larger world. And...

KING: You're a grandmother?

NOOR: I'm a grandmother of -- I'm called a Tata (ph), grandmother by a multitude of my husband's grandchildren, and it means the world to me. So, I've always -- I consider myself a grandmother in that respect for many, many years. No children from my oldest son who's married.

KING: Do you still -- I mean, he just got married, right?

NOOR: He married a year or so ago.

KING: You like your daughter-in-law?

NOOR: I love her. She's been wonderful for him. And she -- I consider her my fifth of those four youngest children.

KING: Really?

NOOR: So I know have five of them. Oh, yes, she's my third daughter.

KING: Do they still require you, because of your title, to check -- did principals in Jordan have to read this book? Did they say take this out?

NOOR: I was asked if I would show to it the intelligence authorities. I said fine, I have nothing to hide. We had some debates over what -- over material that was in it, that I argued was either on the public record, it was my husband's words or voice. And that I also tried to demonstrate could be of no harm to the country, and was very important to telling the story. So with a few minor modifications, it was published as I felt it should be.

KING: You had an historic story, somewhat akin to Princess Grace, although, of course, your husband had a much more important world position than did Prince Rainier. But you were two American girls, prominent families. Your father ran American Airways.

NOOR: I think we probably -- I think we probably faced a lot of similar human dilemmas. Suddenly -- she was actually in the public eye long before she married, I was not.

KING: Yes, she was. You're right. NOOR: And no matter what our husband's roles, there would have been many things we would have faced in common, as adjusting to established courts, established mind-sets about what the role was of someone in our position, about perhaps even being women in our position. But I had a much more of a cultural transition to make, though I'd lived in the region for years before I married, and religious. And yes, my husband's responsibilities were infinite, and he addressed them 24/7, even in his sleep. He was often struggling to work out accommodation with either Arab leaders or Israeli or Americans over the issues that affected the life and death of somebody in the region.

KING: You went to Princeton, right.

NOOR: I did. First freshman class of women. It was great preparation, I often say, for working in the Middle East.

KING: You were one of the first women graduates.

NOOR: Yes, I was.

KING: How many were there in that graduate?

NOOR: I wish I could remember.

KING: It couldn't have been a lot.

NOOR: No. No. Well, no -- well, the ratio was 20 to 1 when we were on campus. And then my major in architecture and urban planning, there were three women in the department. And so that also, I say, was great preparation for being queen.

KING: Does any -- what does prepare someone to be queen?

NOOR: Well, I found that architecture and urban planning was great preparation for public service or being a queen, because it's mostly about trying to solve problems. At least my husband and I both thought of ourselves as public servants. Not that we were in a position to be served by our people, but that we were to serve them, that that was our duty. And by trying to find solutions, and then working with people in the country to implement maybe new ideas, in my case often very new and original ideas, to see if those could solve and accelerate issues such as poverty and unemployment and the role of women, and enhancing that role. And architecture is all about creative problem solving. You have to understand what people need and want with their history, what their beliefs are in order to design for them, whether it's houses, or it's urban settings.

KING: So that was good training.

NOOR: It was perfect training. You get no sleep when you study architecture and planning. You get very little sleep when you're...

KING: What is it? What were you unprepared for.

NOOR: ... in the position I was in. I write in my book that losing real zone of privacy in my life was very difficult adjustment to make. I also have had -- I've been a mother, stepmother to teenagers for 26 years. That is something that no one can prepare you for. All the highs and sometimes the lows. I hope it's been character building all around. And I, of course, this is where Princeton prepared me as well, found myself in a patriarchal court environment in which there were very limited expectations of someone in my position. To cut ribbons and look, you know, glamorous and that was it. And I developed an office to try to look at the source of problems in our country and really tackle development issues in a serious and sustainable fashion.

KING: You weren't going to be the...

NOOR: Figurehead. You know, what I'm talking about. I'm not describing it very well. But yes, I wanted to make a difference -- help my husband.

KING: We'll be right back with "Her Majesty" Queen Noor. At the bottom of the hour we'll give you the chance to talk to royalty. We'll take your calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Queen Noor.

The book is "Leap of Faith." Your calls at the bottom of the hour.

Was it hard to be an American going into that culture, marrying their king?

NOOR: As I write in the book, I pondered long and hard and really put off answering him, King Hussein, when he -- when it was clear that he was proposing -- that he was taking a huge leap of faith in proposing we share our lives together. Because I wondered. The United States had a very complicated image in the region because of its seemingly one-sided support to Israel in the Arab/Israeli conflict.

KING: Your father worked for that a lot.

NOOR: And my father worked to promote better understanding here of both sides of the crisis. I did wonder at length, and, in fact, when I married, I was so touched and moved and heartened by the fact that I was responded to as an Arab halabi (ph), a very common Arab name, returning to the Arab world. As an Arab returning, rather than as a foreigner coming in and setting up shop.

KING: So you weren't treated as the ugly American?

NOOR: No. I mean there would have been those that would have for a variety of reasons, maybe some political, maybe others, jealousy or whatever. But no, I only felt that warm welcome. By the way, any visitor to Jordan feels extraordinarily warm welcome as well. It doesn't matter where you come from. KING: The tragedy of live with that long good-bye, his cancer, I remember once, even at his frailest, he flew his own plane back from the Mayo Clinic.

NOOR: That's right. That's absolutely right. He loved to fly. It was liberating for him, and it allowed him to look down at the ground below and see how interconnected everyone in the Middle East is, all these -- he took me up in the cockpit many times, but right after we married, on one of our official visits, and we were returning to Jordan, he said, look -- we're alone in the cockpit -- Look down. There is Israel. There's Syria, there's Lebanon. There's the Palestinian territories, there's Jordan. There's Egypt. He said, they're all so close together. We are natural neighbors. We should be living and working together in mutual respect and mutual justice and security. And he was so frustrated his entire life, that he couldn't shake other politicians in the region into seeing that it was important to think beyond themselves.

KING: Did he die thinking he failed?

NOOR: There were many times when he was in the hospital when we talked about this, and of course, he talked about what he felt he had yet to do. When he returned to Jordan and he was in remission for those few weeks, days, weeks, after he was in remission and it must have been January of 1999, a remission that lasted far too short a time.

He gave an interview in fact to Christiane Amanpour on arrival back and he spoke about all of what he felt a responsibility to try to accomplish. He focused on continuing the liberalization and Democratization efforts he'd begun in Jordan, economic liberalization. But he also talked about trying -- the environment and special new commitment he felt to insuring that there is a sustainable future for everyone. And of course, his commitment to Arab/Israeli peace and to dialogue among all opposing parties in the region was unshakable, and there he felt he had much more to accomplish and so in that respect, in terms of Jerusalem once again being a city holy to the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, his dream of seeing Jerusalem as a symbol of peace in which all believers could live and pray and find common ground together in peace, that was a dream that he had.

KING: We've got a minute to first break. How is your stepson doing?

NOOR: I think he's tackling a large range of challenges. Regional, domestic -- he's done brilliantly at establishing excellent relations internationally, economic relationships as well as political relationships. Within the region, the challenges we all face are enormous. And I'm very heartened by the new prime minister he's just appointed, someone that I've known and worked with closely over 26 years and who is a man of honesty, integrity, vision and, I think, if supported, where he will need to be supported, he could really effect extraordinarily positive change in Jordan, and hopefully, for the region.

KING: How is the new queen doing?

NOOR: I think, she works very hard, she's a wonderful mother...

KING: Beautiful lady.

NOOR: ...she is beautiful, she is smart. And she is -- I think wonderfully, trying to balance the family life as well as her work life.

KING: Those stories of a rift between the two of you...?

NOOR: I've not been aware of that. There are always going to be stories. I knew that was inevitable. We try to keep in touch regularly, and I think we both understand the challenges of being in that particular situation. And that's one of many bonds.

KING: We'll take a break. Come back with more, and include your phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Her Majesty Queen Noor is our guest, the book is "Leap of Faith," now out in trade paperback. Don't go away.


KING HUSSEIN, LATE RULER OF JORDAN: What we are meeting here today to witness is all about responsibility. Moral character. Physical character. Maturity.


KING: We're back with Her Majesty, Queen Noor, the widow of King Hussein of Jordan. Her number one "New York Times" best seller "Leap of Faith: Memoirs of Unexpected Life" is now out in trade paperback.

Another memory we share is the king's daughter and my daughter graduated American University the same day.

NOOR: That's right.

KING: And your late husband spoke that wonderful day.

Toronto, Canada, for Queen Noor. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, good evening. As most of your life has been spent in the Middle East, though American born, Queen Noor of Jordan, are you dismayed with how relations are between the United States and many Arab counties in the Middle East?

NOOR: Yes, extremely. And it's been struggle for me over 26 years to try to contribute a voice that, I hope understands both sides, feels a conviction, absolute conviction that there's far more that Americans and Arabs and Muslims share than divides them. Politically policies of the United States and the region over very long period of time have created either anger or suffering or skepticism among many in the Arab world who felt that support of sometimes despotic regimes, the favoring of Israel in efforts to reach a peace between the Arab countries and Israel. And the -- as one Arab writer has put it, the inconsistent application or implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions where the United States has gone to war and/or other kinds of intense pressures to implement Security Council resolutions on the occupation of Kuwait, on Lebanon and on Iraq, but resolutions that go back to 1967 on the occupation of Arab lands by Israel have virtually been ignored. So that has just created an atmosphere.

KING: So you're saying they have a reason. They were against the war in Iraq, right.

NOOR: I think what's terribly important, we've seen a lot of -- we've seen this in recent conversations -- recent discussions have been held in Washington, is that the people of the Arab world, especially of Palestinians, look at what has been consistent, steady encroachment on their territory of Israeli settlements and settlers over four decades, and continuing expansion of settlements. And that erodes their confidence in whether the Israeli government is truly committed to peace. And it also affects the American image in the region because it seems that the United States is turning a blind eye to what is contrary to U.N. security Council Resolutions.

KING: But how do those people look that see the suicide bomb they're blows up the bus in Israel?

NOOR: The majority of people think that that is, first of all, a sin against Islam. And it is contrary to our values and our faith. Now, there are those who would support the idea that those people have no other voice in protesting what is sapping them of any hope for the future. And the high, high percentages of Palestinians living in poverty and without their lands. And their livelihoods having been confiscated or destroyed.

On the other hand, I think we're seeing in Israel and the Palestinian territories and in the Arab world, people beginning to try to raise their voices and influence politicians on all sides to see if we're going to have security, if Israel's going to have security, Palestinians must have security. Only in the context of there being security for all will there be security for any. And that entails negotiations and dialogue. Not unilateral actions.

KING: Never saw a mother who wanted her son to die.

NOOR: Absolutely, right. Women have to be more involved in these discussions. They can see beyond the politics to what is in the interests of the next generation, their children. And that is not continued warfare and division. It is coming together and working together to find that solution.

KING: Phoenix, Arizona, for Queen Noor. Hello.

CALLER: Queen Noor, you're still such a beautiful woman.

NOOR: Thank you.

CALLER: And you were with your king for 26 or 27 years. How old were you when you married, and what was the age difference between you?

NOOR: I was 26 when I married, and the age difference was about 15-ish years. And I wish I had 26 years with him. I've had 26 years as Queen Noor, his wife, but only 21 years until he passed away. He's still a part of me every day.

KING: Does it affect that the women -- women liked him so much?

NOOR: Did it affect me? Oh, no, I mean...

KING: I mean, he was a dashing...

NOOR: They had very good taste. He deserved the admiration, and the confidence and the trust that people had in him around the world. I mean, he truly merited it. It had nothing to do with a public relations campaign. It had nothing to do with anything but his true personality and his heart, which was open to everyone and allowed him to break through sometimes generational barriers, because he felt, instead of one act of violence being met by another, he felt that one act of kindness, one act of compassion, empathy might well inspire others.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Queen Noor and more of your phone calls, don't go away.


KING: We're back with Queen Noor. Burlington, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Queen Noor, you wrote in your book that you had to really figure out what your role was. And in fact, I think you mentioned the king really didn't provide you with much direction at all on that. So I'm wondering did you ever provide any information or any advice to Princess Diana or Sarah as you must have seen them struggling to figure out what their role would be?

NOOR: I -- yes, we did have conversations about the positions that we were in, that shared some universal challenges -- and very personal as well as public. I did -- my counsel to anyone, whether it was a first lady coming into the White House or to royalty in different parts of the world was, first of all, not to take anything -- either the most outrageously positive things or negative things that were said about you, not to take any of those personally or seriously. But remember that the truth was somewhere in between. And to live true to their convictions, to follow their instincts, to remember that public service is what a position like this is all about. And it's not about us, it's about how well we can serve a larger community. That should be the focus of our efforts.

KING: I'm told you loaned your house to Fergie?

NOOR: We did, in fact, lend them a house that belonged to a family member in England when they were in between houses and struggling to find a place.

KING: She's a nice lady. Palm Coast, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Queen Noor, I understand you are very involved in the global treaty to ban landmines. Every year thousands of children die or lose their limbs due to landmines. 143 countries have signed the treaty, yet the United States still refuses to sign on. Have you contacted President Bush or anyone else in our government regarding this matter?

NOOR: I have advocated with, certainly President Clinton's government, I even managed to encourage my husband in conversations we had with the Clintons while we were at hospital to address the issue. The U.S. position was explained to us. And yet I think they understood very much how important this issue was.

KING: What is the American position?

NOOR: Is it a weapon that go on killing 50 years after it's been laid.

KING: What is the American position?

NOOR: The American position has been not to sign the Ottawa Treaty. And it is for a range of reasons, including just political differences and language during the treaty negotiations as well as some Defense Department convictions that giving up a weapon might be -- lead to being pressured to give up other weapons. And that there were new systems in play from mixed fields and that there were developing landmines that could be self-detonated.

The problem is those are not in use by most counties in the world. The United States can be a leader in this fight. And it is the landmine issue is a major part of my work with the U.N. and other international organizations in conflict regions around the world.

Because it's an obstacle to peace. Its an obstacle to reconciliation. Where people cannot walk over the ground that once divided them to make peace in fear of their lives. Where children can't go to school without being blasted that are left by even terrorist groups who have even less incentive because the entire community of the world is waiting for the United States to take leadership.

And I've seen these people around the world. I've seen them in Vietnam. I've seen -- met with them in the Balkans, in Colombia, the Middle East, I've seen the devastation and the fact that it impedes the recovery from conflict, the process of reconciliation, bringing people together, especially in the Balkans, we could see it very clearly. And therefore, it impedes our efforts to prevent recurrence of conflict.

KING: So you must know Heather McCartney who hosted this show Saturday night.

NOOR: I didn't know she hosted your show on Saturday night. I'm sure she did a very good job. KING: She's a bright lady.

Ellijay, Georgia. Hello.

CALLER: Oh, yeah, thank you Larry. Your Majesty, you look beautiful. What is your recipe for your beauty? Do you exercise a lot? Do you watch your diet? You look just absolutely gorgeous.

NOOR: Well, I try to keep healthy. And I -- thank you for the compliment. I -- whatever I have about me is the result, I think, probably of trying to work from my heart, true to my conscience and to focus my efforts as much as I'm able to outside of myself.

KING: You think that affects the way you look?

NOOR: I think that affects the way everybody -- look at Pope John Paul who tried -- my husband and so many others in the Middle East in the Arab and Muslim world who are truly devout Muslims who really believe in the essential values of Islam that are shared by Jews and Christians and so many other faiths, who believe in the golden rule and try to live by it. There is a glow about people who are trying to live for something bigger than themselves.

And whatever modest contribution I can make or any of us can make if you're focused outside yourself, I think it helps keep you, I would hope, young and energetic because we need people like that to carry on.

KING: You will be around a long time.

NOOR: You're very kind.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Queen Noor. The book "Leap of Faith" is now out in trade paperback. Don't go away.


KING: The one you should comment on -- I haven't asked it, is about Homza, he was crown prince, your eldest son. And in the first decree issued by his half brother, King Abdullah. And then in November 2004, they announced that he was no longer the crown prince.

NOOR: King Abdullah has not talked to me about that. And so I still -- I don't know. I can't answer that question.

KING: Were you bothered, hurt? Why did they remove that?

NOOR: I have no idea. But my children are -- have been since childhood, I mean, since early childhood, dedicated public servants. And the title aside, they will be able to serve in a whole range of ways, in Jordan and in the larger Arab and Muslim world. And that's what they want to do. And so that's what we talk about and what we've talked about.

KING: Louisville, Kentucky, hello. CALLER: I'm interested in development issues. So I really respect your foundation. And I was going to ask about how you think it changed Jordan? And if the program can be replicated in other Arab counties in the Middle East?

NOOR: I think that our work in Jordan definitely pioneered programs focusing on women, in particular, and very poor communities that changed development thinking in the country from it being sort of charity focused social welfare kind of programs where women were passive recipients, to programs that we -- in which we developed clear examples of how women could be economic forces in the community and in the country, programs that focused on providing women real training and skills that could transform the family and community income. And enable them to become active and self-reliant participants. Also other members of very poor communities that we focused on.

We have trained in these program teams of people from not only throughout the Arab world but also Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. And, yes, they are being replicated. We sent a team into Yemen to replicate the program some time ago.

And we are also working. We have a program that's being worked on in Iraq, and in a multitude of other countries that are focused on providing the skills, microcredit programs, community participatory decision-making programs. So it's the seeds of Democratic decision- making and programs that also recognize that women are a key to better health in the family, to better economic prospects for the family, to higher enrollment of girls in school.

And really, it is a work of women and the involvement of women that really has, as I've seen it around the world in the poorest countries and in countries riven with conflict, it is women who are the key to breaking out of poverty, breaking out of stagnation, to preparing another generation for in fact, leading their countries into real security. It's women who can contribute to achieving real security, not bombs and bullets and repressive governments, but, in fact, women and all their potential being released.

KING: We'll be back with more moments with Queen Noor right after this. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Las Vegas, hello.

Caller: Hi, Larry.


Caller: I have two quick questions. For the sake of time I'll only ask about one subject. Queen Noor, I'd like to know what you think about the war in Iraq, and do you think we'll ever have peace in the Middle East?

KING: Two light subjects. NOOR: Well, I can answer both in perhaps one direction. I believe, as my husband did, that the way to achieve peace in any community in the world, and certainly in the Middle East, is by focusing on human beings, on human needs and human rights and on soft power ways of bringing parties together to try to solve problems peacefully and nonviolently. Dialogue was something that my husband emphasized and was very effective at shortcutting problems that were developing in the region.

And I think if the United States in particular, given its active involvement in the region, shifts to increasing emphasis on soft power and on development and support for the different areas that it feels are critical to peace, issues such as governments, but also tackling poverty and unemployment and the importance of education and cross- cultural understanding, which an article recently in this country described as having not been given any greater attention since even 9/11 in universities and schools in this country -- these are the areas where the United States once excelled. Bringing people together, promoting exchange. This is where the United States needs to focus again, and it will have a phenomenal impact.

KING: Do you think Iraq was a mistake?

NOOR: The war in Iraq?

KING: Yes.

NOOR: I tend not to focus in on political decisions like that, but that having occurred, on, where can we work now? And I think prior, to the war, I would have hoped for a little more dialogue and a little more coordination and emphasis on the U.N. and the weapons experts to really take that fully to the end before resorting -- that war should be the total last resort. That's what my husband believed and I believe that's the way to peace.

KING: New Jersey. Hello.

Caller: Hello, Larry. Queen Noor, what role do you feel that the Muslim woman plays in today's society?

NOOR: In a variety of different societies, a variety of different roles, there are Muslim societies in which women are very active, in which women are living much more according to the rights that they were given by Islam in the 8th century: the right to equal right to education, the right to inheritance, to own property, to vote, to have a say in decisionmaking, not to be coerced into marriage. Those rights are available to women in many Muslim countries, but also not in others.

I think there's an increasing role for women, even conservative women are demanding that their voices be heard. There's a fascinating debate in Iraq right now among women who were elected to the general assembly, between more liberal and more conservative ones, over the role that Islam should play and literalist interpretations and more open interpretations of Islamic teachings. So, I think that these debates, these open, public debates are an extremely important development in the region right now. People on the streets demonstrating peacefully for what they believe are their rights or what they think about foreign occupation or whatever the issue might be, these are such healthy signs of the maturing, I hope, process, that will enable the Middle East to become a far more productive, enlightened and peaceful part of the world.

KING: With all your activism, what's your social life like? Are you dating?


KING: You don't date?

NOOR: I don't. I have great friends, men and women, that I'll -- you know, I'll have dinners with and that are part of my life, very platonically. But there's been no romantic magic since my husband.

KING: Would you want a romance? You're so young

NOOR: It's hard to imagine.

KING: Really?

NOOR: Because I haven't -- the magic was with -- there was real magic with King Hussein, for all the ups and downs of our lives, that was pretty unique and special.

KING: Are you saying that that's -- you're not going to find that anywhere?

NOOR: You don't look for that. It finds you. And it found me through him. And I'm very blessed for it.

KING: Health is good?

NOOR: Thank God. I won't go into the fact that I seem to have been beset by injuries over the last 14 months, but they've come in a set of three -- three sets of injuries. So I hope the three means they're over now. But these are bones and whatever that heal and otherwise my health is good, thank God. More importantly my children are healthy.

KING: Now, the children. Thank you.

NOOR: Thank you so much. So good to see you again, Larry.

KING: Her Majesty Queen Noor.

Tomorrow night, a major panel discussion among religious leaders, the topic of which is, what happens when you die.

We thank Queen Noor; we now turn the platform over to someone Queen Noor knows as well, Aaron Brown. You want to say hello to Aaron, say hello. NOOR: Hello, Aaron Brown.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Your Majesty.

NOOR: It's so good to see you.

BROWN: It's nice seeing you. I was telling someone about an interview we did with you about landmines a bunch of years ago. It's nice to see you again. Thank you.

KING: Aaron, carry on.

BROWN: I shall, thank you very much.


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