German Chancellor Arrives in Jordan for Middle East Talks
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrived Monday in Jordan on the third leg of a regional tour to drum up support for an end to the violence in the Middle East.
He arrived to a red carpet welcome and was greeted by Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb as a military band played the national anthems of the two countries.
Schroeder flew in from Beirut where he called on Israel and Palestinians to return to talks to end their violent month-long conflict. He made a similar appeal in Cairo on Saturday.
The German chancellor will hold separate talks with King Abdullah II and the prime minister on the regional tension and economic relations between the two countries.
He leaves in the afternoon for Syria ahead of visits to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Schroeder pledged to help Jordan come to terms on repaying more than seven billion dollars in foreign debts during a meeting with Abdullah in Bonn in May.
Amman wants Berlin to scrap 50 million dollars of its 400 million dollar German debt.
Germany is Europe's top trade partner with Jordan and the second worldwide after Iraq. It sold goods to Jordan worth 286.8 million dollars in 1999 compared to 12.5 million dollars worth of goods imported from Jordan.
BERRI: SCHROEDER DISCUSSED ISRAEL-HIZBOLLAH PRISONER SWAP IN LEBANON
Lebanese parliamentary chief Nabih Berri said Monday he raised the possibility of a swap of Lebanese prisoners in Israel for four Israelis held by Hizbollah in a meeting with Schroeder.
In response to questions about the four Israeli prisoners, Berri told reporters he "raised (this question) with Schroeder" at a breakfast meeting Monday morning.
"Lebanon and the anti-Israeli resistance are in favor of German mediation to promote an exchange of four Israeli soldiers for the 19 Lebanese held in Israel," he was quoted as saying.
Berri said he believed Schroeder wanted Germany to lead negotiations for a prisoner swap, but did not want to discuss it publicly.
Schroeder avoided questions over possible German mediation during his brief stay in Lebanon, his second stop on a six-stage tour of the Middle East – (AFP)
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