Jordan’s King Arrives in Moscow for Talks on Mideast Crisis, Arms Deals
Jordan's King Abdullah arrived in Moscow late on Sunday for a three-day official visit, his first to Russia, to discuss the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as arms deals, said reports.
AFP quoted the Russian news agency, Itar-Tass, as saying that the monarch, arriving from Bulgaria with his wife, Queen Rania, immediately headed to the state apartments in the Kremlin, where he is to stay during the visit.
The monarch is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for talks that will focus on the latest Palestinian uprising against 34 years of Israeli occupation.
In comments to ITAR-TASS, Abdullah said he appreciated Russia's role in trying to calm the Middle East conflict.
"We are convinced that Russia can continue to work with all the parties, especially in this critical time, in a way to put an end to the cycle of violence and allow talks to resume," he was quoted as saying.
On his three-day visit to Russia, the king is expected to persuade Putin to become more involved in efforts to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli truce and to help end the cycle of violence, Jordanian officials told the Jordan Times on Saturday.
In remarks to the Wall Street Journal Europe, the German Financial newspaper Handelsblatt and the BBC, King Abdullah repeated his call for international observers to be sent to the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, warning that the violence there could spread, becoming a wider "Arab-Israeli conflict."
The king will also seek to purchase Russian arms and explore possibilities of technical training for Jordanian servicemen, the officials said.
Jordan's army is partially equipped with Russian armaments bought by the late King Hussein in the early 1980s. Its Russian-supplied arsenal includes air defense systems, tanks, vehicles and machineguns.
According to the paper, the king is trying to modernize the armed forces, which have suffered under 12 years of reduced state spending to ease the burden of Jordan's nearly $7 billion in foreign debt.
The United States vowed four years ago to develop Jordanian defense capabilities to reward it for its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Since then, US military aid has grown by 50 per cent to $75 million annually. Additionally, Washington has dispatched 16 F-16 jet fighters and other military equipment to Jordan, worth $300 million.
In 1998, Amman was accorded the status of a non-NATO ally of the United States, becoming eligible to receive used military hardware on a more regular basis.
The kingdom's ambassador in Moscow, Ahmad Mbaideen, in a statement to the Novosti Russian news agency, said Jordan would work to increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, presently amounting to $40 million.
Mbaideen also said Jordan sought in developing economic cooperation with Russia, particularly in the tourism, industrial and agricultural fields - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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