King, Rice discuss Mideast peace

1165.jpgKING ABDULLAH on Tuesday discussed with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice international efforts to move forward peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The talks preceded a White House meeting between the King and President George W. Bush due late Tuesday evening.

During the meeting with Rice, King Abdullah underscored the centrality of the Palestinian issue, stressing that a just and lasting solution based on international resolutions and a two-state formula will contribute to solving other regional problems.

The King said Palestinian institutions could be strengthened and living conditions improved by prompt and comprehensive international support to the Palestinian National Authority.

King Abdullah’s talks with Rice also addressed the situation in Iraq, with His Majesty reiterating Jordan’s support for all efforts aimed to restore security and stability in the Arab country and to build a better future for its people.

Rice outlined the United States’ efforts to move the peace process forward in cooperation with all concerned parties, in addition to Washington’s Iraq policy. She expressed the United States’ appreciation for Jordan’s efforts to promote security and stability in the Middle East.

The King’s meeting with Bush was due a week after the president called on moderate Arab nations to reach out to Israel, shore up Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and join an international conference to jump-start political progress.

The two leaders were scheduled to “discuss the Middle East peace process and US efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state”, as well as ways to improve bilateral relations, a Royal Court statement said last week.

“His Majesty will press ways to build on President Bush’s call last Monday for an international meeting to push forward the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis,” it added.

Bush reiterated his administration’s support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The King’s talks in Washington, DC followed a visit to Canada, where he held talks with senior officials on regional issues and bilateral ties.

Meanwhile, Rice will travel to the Middle East from July 30-August 2 on a tour set to take her to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the State Department announced Tuesday.

“During her stops in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, she will be accompanied by Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

The two will meet with their counterparts to discuss the ways in which Iraq’s neighbours can help advance the cause of security and stability in that country,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

“While in Sharm El Sheikh, Secretary Rice will meet with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Egypt and Jordan, to consult on regional issues,” the spokesman added.

She will then travel separately to Jerusalem and Ramallah for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the spokesman said.

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