In dramatic step: Jordanian king postpones meeting with Bush due to US support for Sharon plan
In a surprise move, Jordan's King Abdullah II postponed a White House meeting with President Bush planned for this week, citing "questions" Monday about the U.S. commitment to the Middle East peace process.
The king's decision comes amid anger at Bush for endorsing an Israeli proposal to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank but keep Jewish settlements on other West Bank land occupied in 1967.
The White House played down any hint of friction with Jordan, saying the Wednesday meeting with Abdullah was rescheduled to the first week of May "because of developments in the region."
"The king decided this week it was better for him to be in Jordan and we understand that," said National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack.
But Abdullah has been in the United States since last week and it was not clear whether he had left. A palace statement, cited by news agencies, said Abdullah instructed his foreign minister to remain in Washington to continue meetings and discussions with officials in the Bush administration and to prepare for the king's return to the United States next month.
The palace statement said the Abdullah-Bush meeting would not be held "until discussions and deliberations are concluded with officials in the American administration to clarify the American position on the peace process and the final situation in the Palestinian territories, especially in light of the latest statements by officials in the American administration."
On Saturday, the Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, also canceled a trip to Washington for meetings in the wake of the Bush announcement on settlements.
The Jordanian palace statement said the king sent a letter to Bush on April 8 in which he stressed the Jordanian position regarding ways to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through implementing the "road map."
In his letter, Abdullah said an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza must be part of the peace plan and not an alternative to it.
Despite the dramatic step of postponing a meeting with the president, the palace statement stressed "Jordan sees that the contents of his majesty's letter to Bush comprises significant elements for the continuation of discussions between the American and Jordanian sides." (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)