Jordan's King Asserts Need to Exert ‘All Efforts’ to Restart Mideast Talks
Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Saturday that every possible effort must be made to spur the resumption of Middle East peace talks.
His comments came after a meeting with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, said the Jordan Times.
The monarch arrived in Sofia earlier Saturday and is due to leave for Moscow on Monday.
The two leaders' talks focused on boosting bilateral ties, particularly in economic spheres.
The talks, attended by Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb, also dealt with the crisis in the region and the need to exert every possible effort to restart the Middle East peace talks, said the paper.
Meanwhile, Jordan and Bulgaria signed three cooperation agreements in the fields of economy and tourism, reported the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
On his three-day visit to Russia, the king is expected to persuade President Vladimir 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.
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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